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Ross Koning koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Mon Jul 28 07:32:10 EST 1997

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).
>Doug Collins


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

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