The Rhacocarpaceae are a small family with members traditionally placed in or near the Hedwigiaceae. Two genera are usually accepted for the family, of which Rhacocarpus is by far the better known. Rhacocarpus is characterised by a distinctive and multi-layered ornamentation of the laminal cell cuticles, an ornamentation that is unique among mosses. The genus also has distinctive erect, broadly obovoid, and gymnostomous capsules with deeply immersed stomata. Rhacocarpus has six or fewer species and is most diverse in South and Central America. The attractive R. purpurascens is the most widespread and best-known species and occurs, mostly on wet rock, through most of New Zealand, extending to Tasmania, mainland Australia, the subantarctic islands, the Andes, and elsewhere. In the N.Z. flora, pinnately branched stems, lacquered and usually glaucous leaves with bright red hair-points and margins, together with large and strongly pigmented alar groups of R. purpurescens, normally preclude its confusion with any other plant. The shoots are prostrate or self-supporting and sub-erect, and the plants often form extensive mats over irrigated rock faces.
|Data last updated||May 15, 2018|
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