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Boletín de la Sociedad Argentina de Botánica

versión On-line ISSN 1851-2372

Bol. Soc. Argent. Bot. vol.52 no.2 Córdoba jun. 2017



Lorentziella (Gigaspermaceae, Bryophyta) new for Chile, and lectotypification of the genus


Juan Larraín1, Allan Fife2 and Cristian Atala1

1 Instituto de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Campus Curauma, Av. Universidad 330, Curauma, Valparaíso, Chile. 
2 Maanaki Whenua – Landcare Research, PO Box 40, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand.


The genus Lorentziella is reported for the first time for Chile based on multiple collections done between the months of July and September 2016. New information is given about the ecology of this taxon and its global known distribution, as well as a distribution map. A lectotype for the genus Lorentziella is here selected and the genus authorship is corrected.

Key words: Biogeography; Ephemeral bryophytes; Herbarium collections; Mediterranean climate.


Lorentziella (Gigaspermaceae, Bryophyta) nuevo para Chile, y lectotipificación del género

El género Lorentziella es reportado por primera vez para Chile sobre la base de múltiples colecciones realizadas durante los meses de julio y septiembre de 2016. Se entrega información acerca de la ecología de la especie y su distribución mundial conocida, así como un mapa de distribución. Un lectotipo para el género Lorentziella es aquí seleccionado y se corrige la autoría del nombre.

Palabras clave: Biogeografía; Briófitos efímeros; Clima mediterráneo; Colecciones de herbario.



The genus Lorentziella includes a single species characterized by winter ephemeral leafy gametophytes emerging from a subterranean perennial rhizome, and cleistocarpic capsules completely enclosed in the perichaetial leaves, containing large spores up to 180 μm in diameter. The aerial parts of the gametophytes are formed by rosettes of pellucid and concave, strongly imbricate leaves, with a single rather narrow costa that is excurrent as an awn. The plants when fully developed have a characteristic whitish-golden shine that makes the plants conspicuous from a distance. This taxon looks in the field like a large sterile Bryum species forming homogeneous clusters up to 30 cm in diameter (Fig. 1), but closer examination of the plants precludes any hesitation on its identification.

Fig. 1.
Field habit of Lorentziella imbricata (Mitt.) Broth., growing on bare soil in Reserva Nacional Lago Peñuelas (Larraín 40356, CONC).

Although the name Lorentziella has been attributed to Müller (Müller, 1901; Brotherus, 1903; Lawton, 1953; Rushing, 2007; TROPICOS, 2017), it was initially validly published by Bescherelle (1877). At that time, Bescherelle described Lorentziella paraguensis Besch. and cited Müller's still unpublished manuscript. Thus, almost certainly unintentionally, Bescherelle (1877) published a "descriptio generico-specifica" according to articles 38.5 and 38.6 of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (McNeill et al., 2012).
Two years later Müller (1879) published his manuscript wherein he more fully described the genus Lorentziella, and described in detail two new species of this genus, Lorentziella glauca Müll. Hal. and L. globiceps Müll.Hal., based on material collected by Paul Gunther Lorentz. The type of the former was collected in 1877 at Concepción del Uruguay which is a city on the Argentine side of Río Uruguay. When providing a full description of the genus, Müller (1879) remarked on the similitude of this new taxon with the general habit of Phascum (Pottiaceae), with the subterranean perennial rhizome, large spores and general leaf morphology of Gigaspermum (Gigaspermaceae),
and with the leaf areolation and immersed cleistocarpic capsules of Archidium (Archidiaceae). Müller (1888) subsequently published an additional species, L. gibertii Müll.Hal. from Uruguay.
The first name described in the currently accepted Lorentziella is Leptangium imbricatum (Mitten, 1869), based on a collection made by José Ernesto Gibert in Montevideo, Uruguay, on August 1868. This name was subsequently transferred to Lorentziella by Bortherus (1903) and is the oldest name available within the genus. All species described later are now considered synonyms of it (Lawton, 1953; Fife, 1980).

Material and Methods

Several field trips were made throughout the Metropolitan and Valparaíso Regions of central Chile during the months of July-September 2016, during the Austral winter. The objective of these trips was to document the ephemeral bryophyte flora that exists in this undercollected part of the country. Only the localities where Lorentziella was found are indicated below in the "observed specimens" section. All collected specimens are deposited in CONC herbarium. Historic collections of this taxon, as well as types for the different names available, were studied from NY, PC, and BM herbaria.
Results and discussion
Lorentziella Müll.Hal. ex Besch. Mem. Soc. Sci. Nat. Math. Cherbourg 21: 259. 1877. Type: Lorentziella paraguensis Besch. [Paraguay] Assomption, sur les pelouses. Pl. du Paraguay. - 1874-1877, Juillet 1876, B. Balansa 1258 (Lectotypus PC0696102! (selected here); Isolectotypi PC0696101!, BM000873341, NY00968181!, G00040419!).
Lorentziella imbricata (Mitt.) Broth. Nat. Pflanzenfam. I(3): 511. 1903.
≡Leptangium imbricatum Mitt., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 12: 240. 1869. Type: Uruguay, Montevideo, Gibert 714 [Lectotype NY!, designated by Fife (1980); Isolectotype PC0696100!].
=Lorentziella paraguensis Besch., Mem. Soc. Sci. Nat. Math. Cherbourg 21: 259. 1877. Type: Paraguay, Asunción, Balansa 1258 (Lectotypus PC0696102!). Synonymized by Lawton (1953).
=Lorentziella glauca Müll.Hal., Linnaea 42: 229. 1879. Type: Argentina, Concepción del Uruguay, Lorentz s.n. (Lectotypus BM!). Synonymized by Fife (1980).
=Lorentziella globiceps Müll.Hal., Linnaea 42: 231. 1879. Type: Argentina, Sierra de Córdoba, Lorentz s.n. (Lectotypus BM!). Synonymized by Fife (1980).
=Lorentziella gibertii Müll.Hal., Flora 71: 13. 1888. Type: Uruguay, Montevideo, Gibert 1248 (Lectotypus BM!). Synonymized by Fife (1980).
=Acaulon runyonii Grout, Bryologist 48: 25. 1945. Type: U.S.A., Texas, Cameron County, North of Olmito, 2-II-1944, Runyon 3653 [Lectotypus NY01128002! (selected here)]. Synonymized by Lawton (1953).
=Acaulon megalosporum Grout, Bryologist 48: 26. 1945. Type: U.S.A., Texas, on soil near Austin, VI-1941, McAllister s.n. (Isotypi NY, MICH, MO). Synonymized by Lawton (1953).
Examined Material: CHILE. Región de Valparaíso. Provincia de Petorca, Comuna de La Ligua: Los Molles, parque privado Puquén, entre matorrales de Bahia ambrosioides, Baccharis, Lithrea caustica, Pouteria splendens, Fuchsia lycioides, lat. 32°14'17.9"S, long. 71°31'19.4"W, 20 m s.n.m., 31-VII-2016, J. Larraín 40626 (CONC). Provincia de Valparaíso, Comuna de Valparaíso, Reserva Nacional Lago Peñuelas, en suelo de espinal de Acacia caven, sendero "las orquídeas", lat. 33°10'57.7"S, long. 71°29'13.1"W, 350 m, 13-VII-2016, J. Larraín 40305 (CONC); 20-VII-2016, J. Larraín 40356 (CONC); Comuna de Quilpué, orilla de tranque junto a la Ruta F-50 entre Villa Alemana y Lo Orozco, a medio camino entre Los Quillayes y la viña Catrala, matorral abierto de Lithrea, Colliguaja, Acacia y Trevoa, lat. 33°10'01.0"S, 71°21'01.3"W, 259 m, 25-VII-2016, J. Larraín 40522 (CONC). Provincia de Marga-Marga, Comuna de Olmué, sector Ojos Buenos, entre Lo Narváez y Quebrada Alvarado, en espinal de Acacia caven entre la ruta F-10-G y el estero Pelumpen, sitio degradado, abierto, lat. 33°02'10.4"S, long. 71°07'45.8"W, 205 m, 22-VII-2016, J. Larraín 40459 (CONC); 40460 (CONC); Comuna de Limache, cerro La Huinca, en ladera seca con sabana de Acacia caven y matorrales, lat. 32°58'35.5"S, long. 71°15'53.4"W, 380 m, 13-IX-2016, Larraín 40899 (CONC). Región Metropolitana. Provincia de Santiago, Comuna de Maipú, Rinconada de Maipú, Quebrada de la Plata, fundo Universidad de Chile, en matorral abierto de Baccharis y Acacia caven, lat. 33°29'31.8"S, long. 70°53'14.6"W, 500 m, 23-VII-2016, J. Larraín 40467A (CONC); en ladera con matorral de Baccharis y Colliguaja, lat. 33°29'27.9"S, long. 70°53'19.2"W, 546 m, 23-VII-2016, J. Larraín 40496 (CONC).
The plants were found associated with dry shrubland vegetation dominated by Acacia caven and shrubs like Colliguaja, Lithrea, Trevoa, Bahia, Baccharis, among others, and together with a rich bryophyte ephemeral flora composed of species of Acaulon, Archidium, Barbula, Brachymenium, Cephaloziella, Costesia, Didymodon, Ephemerum, Fissidens, Fossombronia, Funaria, Gongylanthus, Pleuridium, Riccia, Sphaerocarpus, Syntrichia, among many others.
Including these new findings, the currently known distribution of Lorentziella includes Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina (Lawton 1953, Fife 1980), Bolivia (Fuentes & Muñoz 2002, Churchill & Fuentes 2005), Chile, central México (Cardenas & Delgadillo 1994) and Texas (Lawton 1953, Rushing & Snider 1980, Rushing 2007). This unusual distribution pattern is depicted in Fig. 2. In Chile Lorentziella has been so far found only in lowlands between sea level and 550 m, in both the western and eastern slopes of the central Chile coastal mountain range. It is probably a wide-spread but overlooked species of the whole Mediterranean zone of Chile, which ranges between 30-36°S. All South American collections of this taxon have been made between March and September, whereas the Texas collections have been made between January and March (with one outlier collected in June), and the Mexican collection was made in November.

Fig. 2.
Distribution map of Lorentziella imbricata (Mitt.) Broth.

The name Lorentziella uruguensis, mentioned by Bescherelle (1877) is a nomen nudum. Bescherelle's publication of this nomen nudum may be due to differences between the manuscript by Müller he cited and the final published paper (Müller 1879), where the two relevant species of Lorentziella described were L. glauca and L. globiceps.
It is interesting that such a conspicuous, peculiar, and regionally well-documented moss as L. imbricata has not yet been reported to Chile. During our field trips this taxon was found at almost every visited site, sometimes being the dominant cryptogam species on the ground cover in certain habitats like Acacia caven open savanna, even next to highways and other heavily disturbed places. Although very little is known about the ecology of the South American populations of this taxon or other central Chilean ephemeral bryophyte taxa, Rushing (2007) described the above-ground parts of the gametophytes of Texan L. imbricatum as winter plants completely disappearing by late spring. Maybe the plants only sprout when ideal humidity conditions occur. Unusual meteorological conditions prevailed in Central Chile in autumn and early winter 2016 due to a strong El Niño event.
Lorentziella imbricata shares a remarkable similarity in the general morphology and the life cycle of Gigaspermum repens (Hook.) Lindb. as documented by Seppelt et al. (2012). The main difference between these two taxa is the capsule morphology, which is stegocarpous and gymnostomous in Gigaspermum but cleistocarpic in Lorentziella.


We are very grateful to CONAF staff at Lago Peñuelas National Reserve for the collecting permits, and to Rosa Peralta for allow access to Quebrada de la Plata field station of Universidad de Chile. Pancho Santibáñez, Auna Larraín, Sebastian Ponce and Javier Jáuregui are acknowledged for field assistance and help. Fred Barrie provided nomenclatural advice. Curators of NY, BM and PC herbaria are acknowledged for allowing study of their collections. This contribution is possible thanks to a FONDECYT postdoctoral grant given to JL (project no. 3160556).


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Recibido el 15 de marzo de 2017,
aceptado el 18 de mayo de 2017.

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