Encalypta Hedwig, 1801.

Encalypta is a genus primarily occupying areas of thin soil over rock outcrops, sometimes calcareous, sometimes siliceous. With the exception of E. procera, members of the genus usually have sporophytes and they are immediately recognizable by the campanulate calyptrae which completely ensheath the capsule and the upper portion of the seta. Without sporophytes, Encalypta is easily confused with Syntrichia except that most of its species have margins plane rather than recurved. Under the compound microscope, the pigmented lateral walls of the basal cells of Encalypta provide a good gametophytic character. In the field, experienced bryologists can easily recognize sterile specimens of Encalypta. The feature of recognition is, however, subjectively understood, and thus difficult to communicate. Basically, we look for an undulate-crispate appearance of the dry plant – a feature not duplicated in any species of Syntrichia.

Key to Encalypta

Species included are in Encalyptaceae:
Encalypta affinis R. A. Hedwig in Weber & D. Mohr, not known from CA
Encalypta brevicollis (Bruch & W. P. Schimper) Ångström, not known from CA
Encalypta brevipes Schljakov, not known from CA
Encalypta ciliata Hedwig
Encalypta intermedia Juratzka
Encalypta procera Bruch
Encalypta rhaptocarpa Schwägrichen
Encalypta vulgaris Hedwig

Traditionally, species of Encalypta are distinguished primarily by features of the calyptra, the peristome, and the spores. These features are ordinarily useful because the sporophytes are so regularly present. The excellent monograph by Horton (1983) is oriented on spores and sporophytes. We present a rather different key emphasizing gametophytic characters. Many features of the gametophyte are confusingly inconstant. A special problem is the infraspecific variation in the hyaline awn – present or absent, long or short. Perhaps the most useful diagnostic gametophytic characters of the genus are the features of basal cells. The pattern of those basal, often inflated cells can include features such as thickening and coloration of the end walls, shape of the boundary between the basal and median cells, trigone development and degree of enlargement compared with the median laminal cells. It should be noted here that the basal juxtacostal cells of Encalypta are very often eroded from older plants, and the younger plants have those cells of obscured by their erect basal margins. Of additional diagnostic importance is the rhizoid pattern: size, branching pattern, and coloration.

2007 KEY

A. Leaf axils densely beset with a dense cushion of rhizoids, usually gemmiparous; basal leaf cells thin-walled but with large trigones, especially near the boundary with the heavily papillose median laminal cells; uniseriate, filamentous and papillose rhizoidiform gemmae in leaf axils .....Encalypta procera
A. Leaf axils without rhizoid cushions; basal leaf cells not so abruptly demarcated from median laminal cells; gemmae not present .....B

B. Transverse walls of the enlarged basal cells thickened and concolorous; abaxial surface of basal cells papillose with that papillosity extending across the leaf or confined to a few rows of cells on the leaf margin .....Encalypta affinis not known from CA
B. Basal cells not at all papillose or with the papillae of the median cells somewhat transgressing onto the adjacent basal cells .....C

C. Transverse walls of basal cells thickened and reddened with the line between the cells of the base and those of the limb rather abrupt and almost perpendicular to long axis of leaf .....Encalypta rhaptocarpa
C. Transverse walls of basal cells yellow to orange with the line between the basal and limb cells an upside-down "U" .....D

D. Leaf margins recurved at least in middle with that recurvature on both sides of leaf; calyptra fringed with the individual straps set off from the main body by a line of quadrate cells .....Encalypta ciliata
D. Leaf margins plane or recurved near base on only one side; calyptra not fringed or with fringes not so defined at base .....E

E. Leaves with a strongly developed hair point mostly more than 1.5 mm long; leaf apices mostly cucullate; calyptra fringed; rare plants not yet found in California .....F
E. Leaves muticous or with the hair point usually absent from the lower leaves; calyptra not fringed; abundant plants in California .....G

F. Capsules smooth and cylindrical even when dry; calyptra with beak constituting about 1/3 of its total length .....Encalypta brevicollis not known from CA
F. Capsules ribbed at least near mouth, often wrinkled throughout; calyptra with beak ill-defined and constituting less than 1/4 of its length .....Encalypta brevipes not known from CA

G. Rhizoids pale and repeatedly branched, not monopodial, forming a dense cushion in leaf axils, mostly 10-12 µm in diameter; enlarged basal cells mostly 2-3:1, to 12 µm broad; seta short with capsule barely exserted above the perichaetial leaves .....Encalypta intermedia
G. Rhizoids red-brown, to 35 µm in diameter, monopodially branched with branches of much smaller diameter, not densely clustered in leaf axils; enlarged basal cells mostly 3-6:1, to 18 µm broad; seta longer with capsule above even the tips of the perichaetial leaves .....Encalypta vulgaris