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Phyton (Buenos Aires)

versión On-line ISSN 1851-5657

Phyton (B. Aires) vol.80 no.1 Vicente López ene./jun. 2011



Seventeen spp. new records for the Moss flora of Iraq

Contribución a la flora de musgos en Irak con 17 registros nuevos de subespecies


1 Farhad H. Aziz

1 Biology Department, College of Education, University of Salahaddin, Iraq.
Address Correspondence to: Assist. Prof. Dr. Farhad H. Aziz, e-mail:

Recibido- Received 9.III.2011.
Aceptado - Accepted 29.III.2011.


Abstract. Samples and specimens of mosses were collected in different parts of Erbil, Sulaimani, Duhok and Even Kirkuk provinces in Iraq Kurdistan Region, since 1998 to April 2010. This collection could be taken as the representative species of mosses on the soil surface, rocks and tree barks of either terrestrial and aquatic habitats of foothills, mountains and plains. A total of 67 species distributed in 32 genera, 16 families and 9 orders were found. Among them there were 17 species in 10 genera, the 2 families Schistogaceae and Ephemeraceae and the single order Schistostegales. The rarest species recorded in this study were Schistostega pennata with fern-like leaves within a Shanadar cave, Pottia wilsoni var. crinata, at the entrance of Ba-stoon cave, and Ephemerum cristatum within Gali Ali-beg area. Description and photographs of records are included. The key of identification was done based on the study of (1) gametophytic and saprophytic vegetative characters, (2) habitat, and (3) growth forms.

Keywords: Mosses; New records; Photos; Illustrations; Mountains; Kurdistan; Iraq.

Resumen. El muestreo de los musgos recolectados se efectuó in diferentes partes de las Provincias de Erbil, Sulaimani, Duhok y Even Kirkuk, Región Kurdistan de Irak desde 1998 hasta Abril 2010. Esta colección podría corresponder a especies representativas de musgos al pie de montañas, montañas y planicies de hábitats terrestres y acuáticos sobre la superficie del suelo, roca y corteza de árboles. Un total de 67 especies en 32 géneros, 16 familias y 9 órdenes. Entre ellos, 17 especies en 10 géneros, 2 familias Schistogaceae y Ephemeraceae, y un único orden Schistotegales. Las especies más raras registradas en este estudio fueron Schistostega pennata con hojas semejantes a los helechos, en la cueva Shanadar, Pottia wilsoni var. crinata en la entrada de la cueva Ba-stoon, y Ephemerum cistatum dentro del área Ali-beg. Se acompañan descripciones y fotografías de los registros. La clave de identificación está basada en los caracteres vegetativos saprofitico y gametofitico en paralelo con el hábitat y las formas de crecimiento.

Palabras clave: Musgos; Nuevos registros; Fotos; Ilustraciones; Montañas; Kurdistán; Irak.



Works on the Iraqi bryophytes have been concerned mainly with the moss species collected during excursions of foreign workers in different parts of Iraq (Agnew & Tow, 1970; Agnew& Vondracek, 1975). Agnew & Vondracek (1975) recorded 54 genera and 149 moss species; they referred in detail to old works on mosses collected from Mesopotamia, Iraq, Syria and other Middle East countries (e.g. Lebanon, Phalstine, Persia and Afghanistan). Maulood & Resheed (1994) have given a literature survey related to the moss flora of Iraq. They recorded 27 genera and 48 species in the North part of Iraq Nineveh, Erbil and Dohok, where 4 genera and 9 species were considered as new records for the Iraqi flora. Al-Ni'ma (2003) constitutes an excellent reference for the bryophytes of Iraq. He collected more than 450 specimens, covering 5 genus and 8 species as new records to the Iraqi Flora. However, there are only a few references for the Iraqi mosses in the literature leading with bryophytes (Schiffner, 1913; Frochlich, 1959; Al-Ni'ma, 2003) The present study constitutes an additional contribution to the moss flora of Iraq. It includes clear pictures, photographs and illustrations of new recorded mosses, reporting their habitats and distribution.


The identification and classification was based on the available references (Micelle, 1951; Conrad, 1963; Jaques, 1963; Nicholson & Brightman, 1974; Scott et al., 1976; Smith, 1978; Watson, 1980; Phillips, 1994). Hand drawing was made for all identified new records. It was done by wing Lucida camera. Drawings were then redrawn, having support from reference books. Photographs were taken in the field and laboratory using a digital camera. A digital camera joined to a dissecting Olympus microscope was also used. Measurements were done in microns or millimeters after microscope calibration.

Study sites. The study area was located in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Iraq. It extended within 43°15' - 45°14' E, 37°24' - 36°34' N. The total study land was 65000 km2. It covered mountain foothills and hills with plateau areas at an altitude of 400-3785 m.a.s.l. Physiographically speaking, there are two main regions: High Folded Zone and Nappe zone Low Folded Zone (Anon, 1975). The rocks of hills and mountains, of a calcareous type, are covered by alluvium; they were formed by stream and river flows forming alluvial plains. Climate is cold from October to April with winter rains and snow falls (from less than 250 to more than 1200 mm/year). The study growing season was during the spring and dry, hot summer (June to September) (Guest, 1966; Agnew & Vondarcek, 1975).


From more than 300 collected samples, I found 67 species of mosses distributed in 32 genus, 16 families and 9 orders. Mostly the new records were found in the (1) Shanadar and Bastoon cave (in April and August, 2010), (2) Barzewa spring out flow at the base of Hindrain mountain behind Barzewa village, and (3) same places of Halgurd mountain, in very cold water coming from snow out flows above Nawanda village (in July). New records found in the Balayian valley were found within Gali-Ali Beg village during February, April 2010, and also in Ikoban and Kawlokan villages, Rawanduz town, Erbil province, and Denarta in Duhok province.

List (1): Mosses flora recorded in the study area. New records are indicated by an asterisk (*).

Ditrichum pusillum (Hedw.) Hampe.
Dicranella varia (Hedw.) Schimp
*Dicranowissia cirrata
(Hedw) Mild.
*Campylopus schimperi
(Mild) Husn
Leyucobryum glaucum
(Hedw.) Angstr.
Fissidens viridulus (SW.) Wahlenb.
Aloina ambigua (B.S.G.) Limpr.
Tortula ruralis
(Hedw.) Gaetn.
T. intermedia (Brid.) Denot.
T. sabulata var. sabulata Hedw.
T. laevipila
(Brid.) Shwaer
T. muralis
var. muralis Hedw.
T. muralis
var. aestiva Brid. Hedw.
T. muralis
var. aestiva f. brefolia (shiffin) Hedw.
T. marginata
Syntrichia inermis
S. princes
(Denot.) Mitt.
Pottia lancelate
*P. truncata
(Hedw) Furnr.
*P. wilsoni
var. crinata (Br. Eur.) Warnts.
Barbula convulata
var. convulata Hedw.
B. faliax
*B. unguiculata
var. caspidata (Schultz) Brid.
B. viniales Brid.
*Gymnostomum recurvirostrum
*Eucladium verticillatum (With) B.S. and G = Weissia verticillata
Schistidium aporcapum Hedw. var. atrofuscum
Grimmia maritime
G. patens (Hedw.) Br. Eur.
G. pulvinata (Hedw.) Sm.
*G. donniana (Hedw.) var. doniana Bals and Denot.
Racomitrium affine (Wib Hedw. and Mohr.) Lindb.
Funaria hygomatrica
*Ephemerum cristatum (Hook) F. Wils.
*Schistostega pennata (Hedw) Web and Mohr.
Bryum biocolour Dicks
B. capillare Hedw.
B. caespiticium Hedw.
B. kunekii Hedw.
B. pseodotriquetrum Hedw. Schwaeq.
*B. rubens Mitt.
Mnium menziesil Hedw.
*Plagiomnium rostratum (Schard.) kop.
Philonotis Fontana
Amphidium mingotti (Br.Eur.) Schimp.
Orthotrichum affine Bride.
O. diaphanum Brid.
O. schemperri Mon. Hammar.
Hedwigia ciliata (Hedw.) P. Beauv.
Cratoneuron commutatum var. commutatum (Hedw.)
G. Roth.
C. filfciaum (Hedw.) Spruce.
Amblystegium serpens (Hedw.)Br. Eur.
Drepanocladus aduncus (Hedw.) Warnst.
D. flutans (Hedw.) Warnst.
*D. revolvens (Hedw.) Warnst.
Hygrohypnum ochraceum (Wils.) Loesk.
Brachythecum capillare (Hedw.) Br. Eur.
B. plumosum (Hedw.) Br. Eur.
B. rivulare Br. Eur.
B. rulabulum (Hedw.) B.S.G.
B. velatinum (Hedw.) B.S.G.
*Eurhynchium paraelongum var. paraelongum (Hedw.) Br. Eur.
Homalothecium ceviceum (H edw.) Br. Eur.
H. philipeanum (Hedw.) Br. Eur.
*Plagiothecium denticulatum (Hedw.) Br. Eur.
Isoptergiopsis taxiphyllum (Schimp.) Wats.
*Rhytidiadelphus loreus Warnst.
*Isopterygium elegans (Brid.) Mitt. and Lindb.


1- Dicranowisia cirrata (Hedw.) Lindb.
Plants up to 2.0 cm long, with green tuft leaves. These leaves become crisped and curved when dry, and branched when moist, lanceolate, upper narrowly linear lanceolate, tapering to acute apex. Cells rectangular at the base; cells above are rounded quadrate, 10-18μm wide. It grows on rocks and trees. In Gali-Beg (Smith, 1978: p. 147-148, Fig. 62.5-8).

2- Campylopus schimperi (Mild) Husn.
Plants up to 8 cm long with reddish tomentum in their lower part. Leaves 2.5-7.5 mm long, erect. Suppressed when dry, tapering toward apex, minutely denticulate with 1-3 teeth, lamina call with 1-3 (-8) rows. Base cells either hyaline or slightly contain (green) chlorophylls. Cells fragile, angular, hyaline-brownish, trapeze shape, 3-10μm wide. Widely distributed in moist areas, forming yellowish, green color tufts on stones and smooth soil. Found in Denarta, Akri, Duhok, at an altitude of nearly 700 m above sea level. (Smith, 1978: p. 170-171, Fig.73).

3- Pottia truncata (Hedw.) Furnr. = P. truncatula (With) Bus.
Plants are small without seta, 2-4 mm long. Leaves oblong lanceolated, 3-4 times as long as wide, margin plane, upper cells quadrate to hexagonal, 17-24μm wide at mid-leaf, smooth, thin walled. Seta 2-6 mm long. Capsule turbinate 1.0×0.8 mm, widest at the mouth. Plants grow in rock fissures and at the mouth of Baston cave. Bradost mountain, Soran town / Erbil Gali Ali-Beg on rocks and clay muds (Smith, 1978, p.240, Fig. 109, 1-4 and Watson, 1980, p.195, Fig. 56).

4- Pottia Wilsoni var. crinata (Br.Eur.) Warns P. viridifolia Mitt. = P. crinata var. viridifolia (Mitt). Kind.
Plants are red in colour when leaves are dry. Dry leaves spathulate-oblong; apex rounded 2.0-4.0 long and wide; margin recurved. Upper cells are quadrate 17-24 μm wide, papillae, thin walled. Capsule is red, ovoid 0.8 × 1.0 mm, widest at mouth, with 2-4 rows. Growing on rocks in Balayian area, near stream edge (Smith, 1978: p. 238 Pl. 108, Figs. 5-8).

5- Barbula unguiculata var. caspidata Schultz Brid.
Plants are strong when dry, corkscrew, spirals into which leaves are contorted. Seta erect, 1-3 cm tall, plant forming yellowish-green tufts, shining by white spots. Leaves are 1.5- 2.0 mm long. The Narre is slightly extended at the leaf apex. The leaf margin is recurved, obscure, papillose upper areola (Mizelle, 1951, plate XVI, and Smith, 1978, p.252, Fig. 115).

6- Gymnostomum recurvirostrum Hedw. = Wesissia currirostris (Ehen) C.M.
Plants 0.5-10 cm, brownish-red tufts, abundant on rocks in mountainous areas. Leaves tapering to final points, leaf margin recurved below, seta is about 8-10 mm long. Capsule small, rounded-oblong, with narrow yellowish-orange lid twists when dry, erect patent when moist, cells rectangular, papilose above, growing in calcareous rocks in Balayian valley, Joman town areas. (Smith, 1978: p.270, Fig. 126.9-12; Watson, 1980: p.209).

7- Eucladium verticillatum (With.) B.S and G. = Wissia Vermiculata With.
Plants pale green when moist, yellowish-brown when dry, leaves very narrow. Leaf margin with a row of blunt leath. Leaf cell papillose, found on calcareous rocks in Kawlocan and Gali-Ali-Beg ( Waston, 1980: p. 210, Fig.66).

8- Grimmia doniana var. doniana Sm.
Confined to mountain areas. Forming rounded tufts, 1.0 cm long, olive-green or black to brownish in colour. Leaves lanceolate to hair point, variable in length. White ovoid capsule on erect, short (2mm) seta. Our sample without capsule. Grown in moist areas, near stream edge Ikoban-Faqian village (Smith, 1978: p. 316, Fig 149, 1-4; Watson, 1980: p. 220, Fig. 74).

9- Ephemerum cristatum Hook, F. and Wilson
Plant very small, dichotomously branched, the stem about 0.5 mm high. Few leaves, loosely arranged, spreading, hyaline, leaves spathulate, not narrowly lanceolate. Leaves deeply serrated-ciliated. With teeth. The cells are rectangular to irregularly rhomboidal, 10-20 μm wide, thick walled. The seta very short. Tiny capsule, rounded, red brown. Grown on rocks in Gali Ali-Beg (Scott et al., 1976: p. 263, Fig. 49, p. 264).

10- Schistostega pennata (Hedw) Web. and Mohr. = S. Osmundacea Mohr.
It is a typical and rare plant, named the luminous moss, male and female plants are separate, but at the same protonema stage. It grows based on reflected light. The species name refers to its fern-like leaves. Protonema perennial; the plant is small 1-2 cm, without main shoot, leaves like fern leaves, small and microscopic: 0.3 cm long in two rows; erect lanceolated to acuminated, bright round, stem about 1.5 cm long. It lacks prestom. Stem comes from protonema. Found in Shanadar cave (Smith, 1979: 358, Fig.170).

11- Bryum rubens Mitt.
Dioecious, plant (2-15 mm tall) is shortly extended, midlet call 16-20 × 60 μm long, thin walled, with 2-3 marginal rows, deeply coluored, wall leaves broad shortly attenuated, stem solitary. In Aquban and Kawlokan village (Smith, 1978: p. 429, Fig. 206, 1-5).

12- Plagiomnium rostratum (Schrad). Kop. = Mnium rostratum Schrad. = Mnium longirostrum Brid.
It is a rare species forming loose, green patches in shady places, present in cold streams in mountain areas, prostrated, straggly branched; stem green that grows up to about 5 cm, leaves oval with slightly toothed or plane acute edges, yellowish-brownish, green during a short period, spirally arranged leaves.
Cells rounded to hexagonal, 30 × 15-50 μm; capsule ellipsoid. Found at the base of Halgord mountain in streams (Smith, 1978: p. 497-448, Fig. 217, 1-4; Scott et al., 1980: p. 304; Philips, 1994: p. 134).

13- Drepanocladus revolvens (Sw) Warnst. = D. revolvens var. intermedia us (Lindb.) Grout. = D. intermedus (Lindb.) Warnst. = Hypnum revolvens Sw. = H. intermedius Lindb.
Dioecious plant, slender to robust, procumbent to ascending, up to 10 cm long; stem branched with a single outer layer. Cell large, leaves ovate, tapering to long channeled acumen, cells mostly incrassate regular, hyaline; very fragile capsule, if present, inclined cylindrical, short, cured pant yellowish to golden green. On shaded, wet rocks in Duhok -Denarta-kosk (Smith, 1978: p. 567, Fig 277, 5-8).

14- Eurhynchium paraelongum var. paraelongum (Hedw.) Br. Eur.
Dioecious plant; stem slender, up to 12 cm long, procumbent or acute, bipinnately branched, curved or not. Leaves cordate-triangular, largely decurrent, branch-leaves different in shape to lanceolate. Cells enlongated, rhomboidal, rectangular. Seta papillose; capsules horizontal, ellipsoid, curved, with small black spots at maturity, with long subulate beak, found in streams in Ahmad-awa and Balayian valley (Smith, 1974: p. 612-613, Fig. 297, 1-5).

15- Plagiothecium denticulatum (Hedw.) B.S. and G. (Var. denticulatum)
Worldwide species, from pale green to yellowish-brown, wish glossy green. Stems 2 cm long, and 2-5-3 mm wide. Shoot form an open tuft. Leaves widely ovate, symmetric. Vascular bundles very short, margin plane. Hyaline cells, cells shortly rectangular. Found in moist or aquatic regions in mountain areas, at the base of Qandel mountain, Asha-Qualka village Rania town Sulaimani. (Scott et al., 1980: p. 436; Smith, 1978: p. 622-625; Watson, 1980: p. 363).

16- Isopterygium elegans (Brid.) Lindb. = Plagiothecium elegans (Brid.) Schimp.
Dioecious plant; cylindrical, medium-size stem, procumbent, numerous branches, hairs pointed in one direction. Leaves ovate, long, tapering, slightly denticulate near apex. Hardly differentiated angular cells, elongated. Capsule inclined, red with Seta ovoid, lid conical. Found on rocks near stream edges in mountain areas. In Fagin village, Rawandiz town (Smith, 1978: p. 636, Fig. 309, 1-5; Mizelle, 1951: p. 271).

17- Rhytidiadelphus loreus Warnst.
Dioecious, robust, erect, long irregularly and pinnately branched stem, paraphyllia absent, pseodoprahyllia (if present) very small. Stem erect, leaves stoloniform squarrose, spreading branches at the base to acutely narrow, margin denticulate. Cells incrassate, prose, angular, linear at the upper portion. Long capsule, horizontal ovoid or ovoid, gibbous; lid conical or mamillate (Smith, 1978: p. 664, Fig. 324, 1-3).


The author thanks hand drawer Fakhir Abbas Qadir for redrawing, Ismail Ali Ismail for typing and organizing the pictures and Miss Hoveida Mussa Abdullah for typing. Special thanks to Zana Ghazi Assad, Abdullah Hamed Aziz and Abdullah Balaky, who took photographs of specimens in the field and/or in the laboratory.


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1a- Plants with many spreading recurved branches along the stem and clustered at the tip. Cells in one layer, circular and rectangular…….Dicranoweisia cirrata
1b- Plants, branches, stems and cells otherwise
2a- Small living plants in shaded areas; leaves pinnately lobed, growing fern-like leaves…..………. Schistostega pennata
2b- Plants living either directly or partially under sunshine conditions
3a- Leaves with midrib
3b- Leaves without midrib or very short
4a- Leaves broadly ovate, attenuated margin, deeply denticulate…......…......…......…..…......... Ephemerum cristatum
4b- Leaves smooth or entire
5a- Leaves made of 2 layers of cells, midrib extending out of leaves, denticulate, acute leaf ends, long hairs, hyaline ….....Grimmia doniana
5b- Midrib shortly extending out of the leaf, hyaline
6a- Leaf apex broad or rounded, midrib not extending, leaves slightly toothed, cells inflated….....Campylopus schimperi
6b- Leaf apex narrow attenuated or acute tapering
7a- Double midrib, short entire capsules, lid raised up on the columell…......…......….. Gymnostomum recurvirostrum
7b- Plant small calyptra elongated, with few leaves; leaves with end-pointed midrib
8a- Leaves entire, smooth, elongated, small; shoot with few leaves, midrib not extended; capsule erect, elongated cells
8b- End elongated, midrib…......…......…...... Pottia truncata
8c- Capsule down ward curred, elongated; leaves filiform or elongated in whorl, midrib thick, black denticulate…....Pottia willsonni, var. Crinata
9a- Leaves not papilose, cells with long semi-hexagonal and odimetric cells…......…......…......…......... Bryum rubens
9b- Leaves papilose elongated, cells not hexagonal
10a- Aquatic plant, large leaves, erect, spreading; leaves up to 5 mm long, with 2 short ribs…..... Rhytidiadephus loreus
10b- Not-aquatic plant; leaves more or less falcute-secund; shoot hooked
11a- Leaves slenderly acute, midrib short; outer layer cells of stem larger, thinner-walled....... Drepanocladus revolvens
11b- Leaves semi-rounded with short extended midrib, end clear
12a- Leaves lanceolate, broadly rounded at apex with a stout, colourless apiculus, midrib complete, slightly extending, entire margin; cells at the base quadrate or transversely elongated; capsule narrow long; stem spriled…................................................................ Barbula uniguiculata
12b- Leaves ovate at the mouth, acute at the tip, base obliquely attached to the stem, leaves acute, sharply serrated, midrib weak, elongated to half of the cell…...Eurhyncbium paralongum
13a- Leaves plicate; cells large, quadrate or oblonging denticulate or smooth; capsule small, elongate bent-down ….... ..…......…......…......…......…..... Rhytlidiadelphus loreuss
13b- Shoots essentially cylindrical; large leaves falcate and sharply attenuated; cells elongated capsule short, thick, calyptras short……......…..... Plagiothecium denticulatum
14a- Leaves either not or slightly elongated and denticulated; cells irregularly elongated; capsule short and thick …... ...…......…....…........…......…...... Isopterygium elagans
14b- Leaves, not smooth, or not entire, moderately elongated; capsule rises between two branches, small, elongated, erect; cells semi-rounded or irregular…......Eucladium virticellatum
15a- Enlarged, elongated cells, not hexagonal, with three rounded angles, capsule elongated with rounded end when dry …......…......…......…......…........ Bryum rubens
15b- Cells rounded, hyaline, with midrib cells at the edge; denticulated, thick, capsule with short stem, short and enlarged…......…......…......….... Plagiomnium rostratum

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