Funaria — Classification, Morphology, Reproduction, Life Cycle

Funaria is a common moss that belongs to the group Bryophyta. It is a genus of approximately 210 species of moss. Funaria hygrometrica is the most common species of the Funaria genus.

These are primitive multicellular, autotrophic, shade-loving, amphibious plants. They reproduce by spore formation. They don’t have a vascular system for transportation.

Common names

  • Rope moss
  • Cord moss
  • Green moss
  • Little goldilocks
  • Golden maidenhair

Funaria hygrometrica is called “cord moss” because of the presence of the twisted seta which is very hygroscopic (having water-holding capacity) and untwists when moist. The name is derived from the Latin word “funis”, meaning “a rope“.


InfrakingdomStreptophyta – land plants
Taxonomy of Funaria


It is generally found growing in patches in moist and shady places. A moss plant is small and is about 3–5 cm in height and consists of a short axis with minute, green, and spirally arranged leaves. There are no vascular bundles so the absorption takes place through the leaf.

The water-rich environment is necessary for their survival and exitance as the biflagellate sperms can swim through the water only. It also grows in moist, shady, cool, and damp places during the rainy season.


The main plant body of bryophyte is haploid (n) and gametophytic which is represented by a juvenile and an adult stage.

The adult plant body is foliose (leaflike shape) gametophyte which is leafy and branched and is differentiated into axis or stem, leaves, and rhizoids. Stem are small, erect, upright, slender, monopodially branched and photosynthetic.

Leaves are spirally arranged around the axis. It is flat and green with a well-defined mid-rib. Lower leaves are smaller and scattered and upper leaves are large and crowded.

Rhizoids are basal, colorless, branched, multicellular, and obliquely septated mainly for absorption of minerals and anchorage to the substratum.


Funaria (moss) food, seta, and capsule with labelings its Funaria, Gametophyte and Sporophyte
Funaria, gametophyte and sporophyte

A mature sporophyte has three parts:


It forms the basal portion of the sporophyte.


It is along the slender structure that elevates the capsule.


It is an asymmetrical, grooved capsule that has a complex structure. The loose cap of the capsule is known as Calyptra. The capsule can further be subdivided into –

  1. Apophysis: It is the basal green solid and the enlarged portion concerned with photosynthesis.
  2. Theca: The fertile region above the apophysis.
  3. Operculum or lid: It is the sterile terminal part of the capsule. The outermost layer the epidermis is thick-walled while the inner layers are thin-walled and parenchymatous. The lid is separated from the theca by a narrow circular constriction. Just above the constriction is a ring of 5-6 thin-walled cells called the annulus (ring). Below the wall of the lid is a two-ringed structure of peristome teeth. The outer ring of the peristome is the exostome and the inner ring is known as the endostome which takes part in the dehiscence of the capsule.

Spores are produced in this part. They are enclosed in the spore’s sacs. Air spaces traversed with trabaculae are present in theca. The solid central column containing water and food is known as the columella. Just above the theca is the operculum or lid which is 4 – 5 layers in thickness.

It has a double row of peristome teeth which are 16 in number in each ring. There are some stomata present on the outermost layers called the epidermis. When the spores ripen, the capsule starts to dry up. The hygroscopic peristome teeth start bending inward when there is high humidity.

They pick up some spores and straighten in low humidity and get dispersed. This is in the sporophyte where the meiosis division takes place which results in the production of haploid (n) spores that germinate to form gametophyte. Each diploid (2n) spore mother cell undergoes meiosis to form four haploid spores.

Life cycle

They show an alternation of generation i.e. the gametophytic stage alternates with the sporophytic stage. The moss passes through two independent phases that are, the gametophyte or sexual phase and the Sporophyte or Asexual phase.

Reproduction also takes place through vegetative propagation. Small fragments of any part of the plant can grow into a full plant body. Small multicellular green ends called Gammae may arise along the axis and when detached may grow into a dew plant.

Reproduction in Funaria

Funaria, commonly known as cord moss, exhibits a fascinating life cycle that involves both vegetative and sexual modes of reproduction. Let’s delve deeper into the intricate processes through which Funaria propagates and perpetuates its species.

Vegetative Reproduction

Vegetative reproduction in Funaria takes place through 5 means; primary protonema, secondary protonema, apospory, bulbils, and gammae.

Primary Protonema

Protonema is basically defined as the creeping, green, branched, and often filamentous stage of the process of growth. Protonema is a haploid, autonomous, and gametophytic stage of the life cycle of mosses.

The spores germinate to produce branched, filamentous, and multicellular structures that are called primary protonema. These cells break into fragments to produce new protonemal cells which develop into a leafy gametophore (prominent structures in seedless plants on which the reproductive organs are borne). These cells eventually develop into leafy gametophytes, which represent the dominant phase of the moss plant.

Secondary Protonema

In addition to spore germination, Funaria can also generate secondary protonema from broken or injured parts such as rhizoids, stems, or leaves. Secondary protonema is similar morphologically to primary protonema and also gives rise to gametophore initials. It is formed from broken or injured rhizoids, stems, or leaves.

Under favorable conditions, the secondary protonemata are formed from any detached or injured portion of the gametophore from the stem, leaves, antheridium, paraphyses, and archegonium. It can give rise to a whole new gametophore. This secondary protonema serves as an alternative method of vegetative reproduction, leading to the formation of entirely new gametophytes.


A small bulblike structure or small resting buds, in particular one in the axil of a leaf, which may fall to form a new plant. It arises from the rhizoids and starts dividing under favorable conditions and produces filamentous protonema that can grow into leafy gametophytes.

These bulbils, resembling small resting buds, have the potential to grow into filamentous protonema under favorable conditions, eventually developing into leafy gametophytes.


A gemma (plural gemmae) is a single cell, a mass of cells, or a modified bud of tissue the terminal cells of the protonema can differentiate to form gemmae—compact, green bodies. Under unfavorable conditions, the terminal cells of the protonema divide transversely and longitudinally to give rise to 10-30-celled green bodies that detach from the parent body and develop into new plants when conditions become conducive. These structures start to divide and form new plants in favorable conditions.


It is the development of 2n gametophytes, without meiosis and spore formation, from vegetative, or non-reproductive cells of the sporophyte. It is the development of haploid (n) sporophytes without gametes and syngamy from vegetative cells of the gametophyte.

Vegetative cells of the sporophyte give rise to green protonemal fragments which later become a gametophyte. The gametophyte produced from apospory is diploid which gives rise to tetraploid and sterile sporophytes.

It’s a unique aspect of Funaria’s vegetative reproduction is apospory, where a gametophyte develops directly from sporophyte cells without the formation of spores. This process results in the production of diploid gametophytes, which subsequently give rise to tetraploid, sterile sporophytes.

Primary Protonema v/s Secondary Protonema

  • Protonema developed from spores is called primary protonema and the protonema development from parts other than spores is known as secondary protonema.
  • Secondary protonema develops from any of the parts of the adult plant body the parts may include stems, leaves, and rhizoids.

Sexual Reproduction

Funaria is monoecious that’s why male and female reproductive organs develop on the same plant but on different branches. Highly specialized male organs are known as antheridia and female sex organs are known as archegonia. These sex organs are born in clusters.

Funaria employs oogamous sexual reproduction, involving distinct male and female reproductive structures:

  1. Antheridium (Male Structure): The male reproductive structure, known as the antheridium, develops on specialized branches called antheridial branches. Antheridia contain male gametes (sperm) that are released during maturation. Surrounding the antheridium is a rosette of protective leaves known as perigonial leaves. Paraphyses, sterile and hair-like structures, are also present within the antheridium, assisting in water storage, photosynthesis, and protection.
  2. Archegonium (Female Structure): The archegonium represents the female reproductive structure of Funaria. It is borne on specialized branches and consists of a flask-shaped structure comprising a neck, venter, and neck canal cells. The venter contains an egg cell and a ventral canal cell. Cover cells at the tip of the neck seal the archegonium.

The antheridium is a multicellular club-shaped with a small stalk and encloses numerous cells called antherozoid mother cells. Each short of antheridium has a jacket of cells. The antheridium bursts at the apex and through a mucilage mass the mother cells are set free. Each antherozoid is a very small and biflagellate spirally coiled structure that swims on the water current.

The upright paraphysis is a green and hair-like structure that secretes mucilage that protects the antheridia by conserving moisture. The archegonia are born at the apex of the female branch and are surrounded by perichaetial leaves. The archegonium is flask-shaped having a short multicellular stalk.

The lower smaller part is called the venter which encloses the egg cell and a ventral canal cell. Above it are about six neck canal cells. The wall of the neck is continuous with that wall of the neck is continuous with that of the venter.

In mature archegonium, the neck canal cells degenerate into mucilage. A sugary solution is secreted at the tip and this attracts the Sperm for fertilization. When the sperm reaches here it fuses with the egg cell and forms a diploid (2n) Zygote by the process of fertilization.

All other antherozoids that enter the neck canal degenerate once fertilization has taken place. The Zygote is retained within the venter which provides it protection. After fertilization, the antheridial clusters wither.

A wall is secreted around the zygote and it is known as Oospore. This now undergoes repeated divisions which result in the formation of the sporophyte. This sporophyte remains attached to the gametophyte.

Difference Between Antheridum and Archegonium

1.The male reproductive organs called antheridia are present on the main branch.The female reproductive organs called archegonia are present on the lateral branch.
2.In the male heads, the paraphyses terminate in a large global cell.In the female heads, the paraphyses terminate in the pointed ends.
3.An antheridium is a club-shaped structure that is borne on a short, multicellular stalk.Each archegonium is a flask-shaped structure that is raised on a short stalk.
4.The antheridium produces a large number of sperms.The archegonium has a single egg cell.
5.The sperms have two flagella and are motile.The egg possesses no flagella and is not motile.
6.The antheridium does not produce a surgery solution.The archegonium produces a surgery solution to attract sperm.
7.The fusion of gametes does not take place inside the antheridium.The fusion of gametes takes place inside the archegonium.
8.After fertilization, the male branch withers off.After fertilization, the female branch continues to grow.
Antheridum v/s Archegonium

Fertilization and Sporophyte Development

Fertilization in Funaria involves the transfer of sperm cells (spermatozoids) to the archegonium. Spermatozoids are attracted by mucilage secreted by the archegonium and swim through water to reach the egg. Upon fertilization, the zygote is formed within the archegonium.

The zygote develops into a sporophyte, which remains attached to the gametophyte. The sporophyte derives nutrients from the gametophyte and consists of three main parts:

  • Foot: The basal part of the sporophyte that attaches to the gametophyte and facilitates nutrient absorption.
  • Seta: A slender stalk that connects the capsule (sporangium) to the foot, enabling the transport of water and nutrients.
  • Capsule (Sporangium): The reproductive structure of the sporophyte where spores are produced. The capsule consists of an apophysis, theca, and lid (operculum).

Dehiscence of the Capsule and Spore Germination

As the capsule matures, it undergoes dehiscence—the lid (operculum) is shed, and the spores are released gradually through the peristome teeth. Spores, known as meiospores, germinate under suitable conditions. Upon germination, spores develop into protonema, a filamentous structure that gives rise to new gametophytes, thus completing the life cycle of Funaria.

In conclusion, the reproductive strategies of Funaria demonstrate a remarkable adaptation to diverse environmental conditions, ensuring the continued survival and dispersal of this unique moss species. Through both vegetative and sexual means, Funaria exemplifies the complex and intricate processes inherent in bryophyte reproduction.

Geographic distribution

  • Africa
  • Australia
  • Caribbean
  • Europe & Northern Asia (excluding China)
  • Middle America
  • North America
  • Oceania
  • South America
  • Southern Asia


There are more than 200 species of Funaria known today, of which 18 species are found in India.

  1. Funaria acicularis
  2. Funaria acidota
  3. Funaria acutifolia
  4. Funaria aequidens
  5. Funaria altiseta
  6. Funaria altissima
  7. Funaria americana
  8. Funaria ampliretis
  9. Funaria andicola
  10. Funaria anomala
  11. Funaria antarctica
  12. Funaria apiahyensis
  13. Funaria apiculatopilosa
  14. Funaria apophysata
  15. Funaria arctica
  16. Funaria arenicola
  17. Funaria aristatula
  18. Funaria balansae
  19. Funaria beccarii
  20. Funaria bergiana
  21. Funaria berteroana
  22. Funaria beyrichii
  23. Funaria bogosica
  24. Funaria bonplandii
  25. Funaria borbonica
  26. Funaria borneensis
  27. Funaria brassii
  28. Funaria buseana
  29. Funaria calvescens
  30. Funaria cameruniae
  31. Funaria campylopodioides
  32. Funaria capillaris
  33. Funaria capillipes
  34. Funaria cartilaginea
  35. Funaria chevalieri
  36. Funaria chilensis
  37. Funaria chiloensis
  38. Funaria clavaeformis
  39. Funaria clavata
  40. Funaria clavellata
  41. Funaria commixta
  42. Funaria commutata
  43. Funaria contorta
  44. Funaria convexa
  45. Funaria costesii Thér.
  46. Funaria curvi-apiculata
  47. Funaria curvipes
  48. Funaria curviseta
  49. Funaria decaryi
  50. Funaria delicatula
  51. Funaria deserticola
  52. Funaria discelioides
  53. Funaria diversinervis
  54. Funaria dozyana
  55. Funaria eberhardtii
  56. Funaria erectiuscula
  57. Funaria euryloma
  58. Funaria eurystoma
  59. Funaria excurrentinervis
  60. Funaria faucium
  61. Funaria flava
  62. Funaria flavicans
  63. Funaria flexiseta
  64. Funaria fontana
  65. Funaria fontanesii
  66. Funaria fritzei
  67. Funaria fuscescens
  68. Funaria glabripes
  69. Funaria gracilis
  70. Funaria grossidens
  71. Funaria hildebrandtii
  72. Funaria holstii
  73. Funaria hookeriana
  74. Funaria hosseusii
  75. Funaria husnotii
  76. Funaria hygrometrica Hedw.
  77. Funaria hygrometrica f. breviseta
  78. Funaria hygrometrica var. calvescens
  79. Funaria hygrometrica x physcomitrium acuminatum
  80. Funaria imerinensis
  81. Funaria incompleta
  82. Funaria incurvifolia
  83. Funaria inflata
  84. Funaria integra
  85. Funaria jamesonii
  86. Funaria japonica
  87. Funaria javanica
  88. Funaria kilimandscharica
  89. Funaria koelzei
  90. Funaria krausei
  91. Funaria laevis
  92. Funaria laxissima
  93. Funaria leibergii
  94. Funaria lepervanchei
  95. Funaria lignicola
  96. Funaria limbata
  97. Funaria lindigii
  98. Funaria linearidens
  99. Funaria longicollis
  100. Funaria longiseta
  101. Funaria ludoviciae
  102. Funaria luteo-limbata
  103. Funaria lutescens
  104. Funaria macrocarpa
  105. Funaria macrospora
  106. Funaria maireana
  107. Funaria marginatula
  108. Funaria mathwesii
  109. Funaria mauritiana
  110. Funaria mayottensis
  111. Funaria meeseacea
  112. Funaria megalostoma
  113. Funaria microcarpa
  114. Funaria micropyxis
  115. Funaria microstoma
  116. Funaria minuticaulis
  117. Funaria mittenii
  118. Funaria muhlenbergii
  119. Funaria muhlenbergii var. alpina
  120. Funaria nilotica
  121. Funaria noumeana
  122. Funaria nubica Müll. Hal.
  123. Funaria obtusa (Hedw.) Lindb.
  124. Funaria obtusa var. ahnfeltii
  125. Funaria obtusa var. notarisii
  126. Funaria obtusata
  127. Funaria obtuso
  128. Funaria oligophylla
  129. Funaria orizabensis
  130. Funaria orthocarpa
  131. Funaria ouropratensis
  132. Funaria papillosa
  133. Funaria paucifolia
  134. Funaria pellucida
  135. Funaria perlaxa
  136. Funaria perrottetii
  137. Funaria pilifera
  138. Funaria plagiothecia
  139. Funaria planifolia
  140. Funaria polaris Bryhn
  141. Funaria porteri Thér.
  142. Funaria producta
  143. Funaria puiggarii
  144. Funaria pulchella
  145. Funaria pulchra
  146. Funaria pulchricolor
  147. Funaria ramulosa
  148. Funaria renauldii
  149. Funaria rhizomatica
  150. Funaria rhizophylla
  151. Funaria rhomboidea
  152. Funaria riparia
  153. Funaria robustior
  154. Funaria rottleri
  155. Funaria saharae
  156. Funaria sartorii
  157. Funaria schinzii
  158. Funaria schnyderi
  159. Funaria serrata
  160. Funaria serricola
  161. Funaria sickenbergeri
  162. Funaria sinuato
  163. Funaria sipascoyae
  164. Funaria sovatensis
  165. Funaria spathulata
  166. Funaria spathulifolia
  167. Funaria subcuspidata
  168. Funaria suberecta
  169. Funaria subimmarginata
  170. Funaria subleptopoda
  171. Funaria submarginata
  172. Funaria subnuda
  173. Funaria subplanifolia
  174. Funaria subtilis
  175. Funaria subulata
  176. Funaria succuleata
  177. Funaria tenella
  178. Funaria trumpffii
  179. Funaria uleana
  180. Funaria undulata
  181. Funaria urceolata
  182. Funaria usambarica
  183. Funaria valdiviae
  184. Funaria varia
  185. Funaria verrucosa
  186. Funaria volkensii
  187. Funaria wallichii
  188. Funaria wichurae
  189. Funaria wijkii

Common Indian species of Funaria:

  1. Funaria hygrometrica
  2. Funaria fascicularis
  3. Funaria obtusa


  • Funaria hygrometrica is nitrophilous (nitrogen-loving)
  • It is used in nurseries and greenhouses to nourish plants
  • Demonstrate the life cycle of a typical moss in educational institutions
  • Used in container gardens


What is mycelium?

Mycelium, plural mycelia, is the mass of branched, tubular filaments (hyphae) of fungi. The mycelium makes up a typical fungus’s thallus or undifferentiated body.

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