Scientific Name:
Entosthodon laxus (Hook.f. & Wilson) Mitt., Hooker's J. Bot. Kew Gard. Misc. 8: 259 (1856)
  • Gymnostomum laxum Hook.f. & Wilson, Bot. Antarct. Voy. I. (Fl. Antarct.) Part II, 399 (1847) – as Gymnostomum (Physcomitrium) laxum
  • Physcomitrium laxum (Hook.f. & Wilson) Müll.Hal., Syn. Musc. Frond. 2, 546 (1851)
  • Funaria laxa (Hook.f. & Wilson) Broth., Deutsche Sudpolar-Exped. 1901–1903, 8, 88 (1906)
Lectotype: Kerguelen, Antarctic Expedition 1839–1843, J.D. Hooker 744 ("Wilson no. 257"), BM-Hooker! Isolectotypes: BM-Hooker!, NY-Mitten! (Designated by Fife 1987a.)
  • = Funaria subattenuata Broth., Öfvers. Finska Vetensk.-Soc. Förh. 40: 173 (1898) – as Funaria (Entosthodon) subattenuata
Holotype: N.Z., Canterbury, swamp at top of Arthur's Pass, 3013 ft., Jan. 1888, T.W.N. Beckett 93, H-Brotherus! Isotypes: CHR 500808!, CHR 527857!
  • = Meesia craigieburnensis R.Br.bis, Trans. & Proc. New Zealand Inst. 31: 464 (1899)
Lectotype: N.Z., Broken River, 1887, R. Brown s.n., BM-Dixon! Isolectotype: CHR 335686! (Designated by Fife 1987a.)
  • = Tayloria maidenii Broth., Proc. Linn. Soc. New South Wales 41: 583 (1916)
Type material: Australia, Mt. Kosciusko, Merrit’s Camp, Maiden & Forsyth 184, FH!
The epithet laxus roughly translates as flaccid or loose and presumably is derived from Hooker and Wilson’s descriptive phrase (in the protologue) “foliis erect-patentibus laxe imbricatis elliptico-lanceolatis…” The description of the loosely imbricate leaves is probably drawn in comparison to other taxa placed in the (then) larger genus Gymnostomum.

Plants yellow- or bright green, gregarious. Stems pale to red-brown, to 15 mm, branching once by subperigonial innovation, or forking beneath soil surface and producing subperigonial innovations above, beset with cerise rhizoids. Leaves erect-spreading, lingulate, 1.5–3.0(–4.0) × 0.6–1.0 mm, plane to weakly concave, entire or weakly crenulate above, tapered in upper ⅓, broadly acute or obtuse; upper laminal cells oblong-hexagonal, c. 70–100(–130) × 24–30(–45) µm, longer and more oblong below but not thinner-walled; marginal cells not differentiated or rarely weakly differentiated above; apical cell 25–55 µm (rarely to 100 µm); alar cells not differentiated or slightly more pigmented than adjacent cells. Costa rather thin and weak, c. 30–40(–50) µm wide near base, failing c. 5–10 cells (rarely more) below leaf apex. Axillary hairs present.

Autoicous. Perigonia and perichaetia as per genus. Setae (5–)10–20(–23) mm, dextrorse above, pale brown, weakly hygroscopic; capsules erect, symmetric, oblong-obovoid or oblong-pyriform, scarcely constricted below mouth when dry, 1.5–2.5(–3.0) mm, with a well-differentiated neck ⅓ to ½ the capsule length, red-brown at maturity; mouth c. ¾ the capsule diameter, transverse; exothecial cells with distinct lumina, c. 2–3:1, averaging 30–40 µm, in cross-section with anticlinal walls not or very weakly cuneate, c. 6–8 rows isodiametric to oblate and darker at capsule mouth; operculum mammillate or strongly convex. Peristome double; exostome teeth straight, cerise, often fugacious, to 300 × 50–75 µm but often shorter and irregular, acute or rounded, baculate-papillose, not or weakly striate, weakly nodulose (lacking marginal appendiculae), inner surface scarcely trabeculate; endostome rudimentary and fugacious, with segments irregular and hyaline, to 120 µm, gemmate to lowly insulate. Calyptra mitrate or splitting on one side to become cucullate, rostrate. Spores 25–35 µm, gemmate to lowly insulate.


NI: Gisborne (near Lake Waikareiti), Wellington (Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngāuruhoe, Northwest Ruahine Range); SI: Nelson, Canterbury, Westland, Otago, Southland (Eyre Range); A; M. No indisputable collections from St or C have been confirmed, but it almost certainly occurs on those islands.

Austral-Andean. Tasmania*, mainland Australia (Australian Alps)*, Kerguelen*, Marion I.*, Crozet Is*, Chile*, Bolivia*, Peru*, Ecuador*, Venezuela*.


On waterlogged to sometimes mesic and usually shaded humic soil (usually with sand or gravel fragments). Often at the margins of small subalpine or alpine streams; also on wet outcrops or in seepages. Occurring in areas with various bedrock types, including greywacke, schist, granite, limestone, and ultra-mafics. It is frequently shaded by overhanging snow tussocks. From c. 900 (Tongariro National Park, Wellington L.D.) to c. 1900 m (Makatote River headwaters, Mt Ruapehu, Wellington L.D.) on the North I. and from c. 730 (Broken River Basin, Canterbury L.D.) to at least 1650 m (Mt Arthur, Nelson L.D.) on the South I. On Auckland I. it grows to near sea level. Frequently associated flowering plants include Nertera depressa, Pratia angulata, and Drosera spp. (especially D. arcturi), while associated bryophytes can include Breutelia pendula, Blindia robusta, aquatic growth forms of Distichophyllum pulchellum, Isotachis montana, Jamesoniella tasmanica, and members of the Aneuraceae.

The broadly acute or obtuse, lingulate leaves, the ± mammillate opercula, and oblong-obovoid capsules, and the bright cerise (cherry-coloured) rhizoids and exostome teeth facilitate recognition of this species, as does its predominantly subalpine to alpine distribution. Microscopically, the short exothecial cells with distinct lumina and non-cuneate anticlinal cell walls are very distinctive.

The only other regional Entosthodon with which E. laxus could be confused is E. subnudus var. gracilis, which is a much smaller lowland plant with plano-convex opercula. A review of the ecology, world distribution, and extensive synonymy of E. laxus was provided by Fife (1987a).

Indigenous (Non-endemic)
Brotherus, V.F. 1898: Some new species of Australian mosses described IV. Öfversigt af Finska Vetenskaps-Societetens Förhandlingar 40: 159–193.
Brotherus, V.F. 1906: Di Laubmoose der Deutschen Südpolar-Expedition 1901–1903. In: Drygalski, E. von (ed.) Deutsche Südpolar-Expedition, 1901–1903. Vol. 8. Reimer, Berlin. 81–96.
Brotherus, V.F. 1916: Descriptions of some new species of Australian, Tasmanian, and New Zealand mosses. VI. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 41: 575–596.
Brown, R. 1899 ("1898"): Notes on New Zealand Musci, and descriptions of new species. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 31: 442–470.
Fife, A.J. 1987a ("1986"): Taxonomic and nomenclatural observations on the Funariaceae. 4. A review of Entosthodon laxus with incidental notes on E. obtusifolius. Bryologist 89: 302–390.
Fife, A.J. 1987b: Taxonomic and nomenclatural observations on the Funariaceae. 5. A revision of the Andean species of Entosthodon. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 45: 301–325.
Fife, A.J. 2019: Funariaceae. In: Smissen, R.; Wilton, A.D. (ed.) Flora of New Zealand – Mosses. Fascicle 45. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.
Hooker, J.D.; Wilson, W. 1847: Musci. In: Hooker, J.D. The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage of H.M. Discovery Ships Erebus and Terror in the Years 1839–1843, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross. I. Flora Antarctica. Part II. Botany of Fuegia, the Falklands, Kerguelen's Land, etc. Reeve, Brothers, London. 395–423.
Malcolm, B.; Malcolm, N. 2003: A Colour Atlas of the Genera of New Zealand’s Mosses. Micro-Optics Press, Nelson.
Mitten, W. 1856: A list of the Musci and Hepaticae collected in Victoria, Australia, by Dr. F. Mueller. Hooker's Journal of Botany and Kew Garden Miscellany 8: 257–266.
Müller, C. 1850–1851: Synopsis Muscorum Frondosorum omnium hucusque cognitorum. Vol. 2. Foerstner, Berlin.