Taxiphyllum alternans "Taiwan Moss"

Aquarium suitability: yes
Usage: Epiphyte (growing on hardscape), Nano tanks
Difficulty: very easy
Growth: slow
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Habit, plant type:

  • epiphyte or epilith
  • moss / liverwort or fern prothallium
Botanical name [?]: Taxiphýllum altérnans (Cardot) Z. Iwats.

Major group (unranked): Mosses (Bryophyta)
Order: Hypnales
Family: Hypnaceae
Genus: Taxiphyllum


Taxiphyllum alternans (Cardot) Z. Iwatsuki is a moss with a creeping habit originating from regions with temperate to subtropical climates: the south-east of the USA and Eastern Asia. In the habitat, it lives on earth and exposed tree roots, on rotting wood in swamps and on rocks on rivulets and waterfalls. At first it was introduced to the hobby as Taiwan moss, even though it is not clear yet if this moss is native to Taiwan at all. Later on, Prof. Benito C. Tan (Singapore) identified it as Taxiphyllum alternans.

Taiwan moss is very similar to Taxiphyllum barbieri, however, under good lighting it branches more densely and regularly. The two species can be discerned under a microscope, too: the leaf margin of T. alternans is only sawed around the leaf tip, whereas the entire margin of T. barbieri is finely sawed. The dense ramification of Taiwan moss is quite similar to that of spiky and peacock moss (Taxiphyllum sp.), however, those mosses have broader, stronger shoots. Christmas moss (Vesicularia montagnei) is also a densely ramifying moss, however, it differs from the species of the genus Taxiphyllum by - amongst others - broader, sometimes rounder leaves with an acuminate tip that set on the stem in an almost perfect right angle.

Taxiphyllum alternans is as undemanding as T. barbieri. It can be used for a multitude of purposes in the aquarium. Its frondlike, ramified shoots with their triangular outline pose a lot of scope for layouting and can be used in the same way as Christmas moss (Vesicularia montagnei). However, Taiwan moss has an overall finer structure than the latter.

To be continued...

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