At 9:27 PM -0400 7/27/97, DC104939 at aol.com wrote:
>I've been looking at what is called spanish moss, during a trip to Monterey
>County, California. I assume that it is tillandsia usneoides. But is it?
> How do I distinguish it from the lichen usnea (old man's beard). Any hints
>would be appreciated. (I am particularly fascinated by the pattern of apical
>cell division in these specimens).
I'd look for flowers on the Tillandsia at this
time of year. They are reasonably large (2 cm) and
usually have blue/purple corolla.
If your specimens are NOT flowering, then I would
look for vascular tissue in the stems connecting the
"plantlets" or "many crowns" that are "strung together"
to make up the "moss". To do this, I would crush the
tissue and mount it in a slide with something like
phloroglucinol and hydrochloric acid. This will turn
the lignin in the xylem a deep red color. You would
then see the wall thickenings (looking like ridges on
a dryer vent tube) expected for a vascular plant.
Lichens will not have flowers or vascular tissue.
Ross Koning | koning at ecsu.ctstateu.edu
Biology Department | http://koning.ecsu.ctstateu.edu/
Eastern CT State University | phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT 06226 USA | fax: 860-465-4479