Buxbaumia is commonly known as bug moss, or elf-cap moss. It is a genus of moss with twelve known species. It was named after Johann Christian Buxbaum, a German botanist and physician who made the discovery in 1712.
Buxbaumia remains microscopic for almost its entire existence. The plants are only remotely visible after they begin to produce their reproductive structures. The spore capsule the moss produces is asymmetrical in shape and structure. This gives it a distinctive appearance and contains features of both primitive and modern mosses. It consists of tiny green-black threads growing on a surface, resembling felt.
Buxbaumia contains separate male and female parts. This makes them "dioecious," meaning that separate plants have different organs. Male plants develop a single microscopic leaf, while the female counterpart develops 3 or 4 tiny opaque and colorless leaves.
Buxbaumia tends to grow as a pioneer species, often in disturbed habitats. It is an annual plant and grows on decaying wood, outcroppings of rock, and directly on soil. It has a tendency to disappear from places it has previously been located. Buxbaumia can be found from extremely temperate to even sub-arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere, but also among the cooler and more temperate regions of Australia and New Zealand.
Image Caption: The sporophytes of Buxbaumia aphylla found at Clearwater National Forest, USA. Credit: USDA/Wikipedia