Fontinalis antipyretica

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Fontinalis antipyretica
Fontinalis antipyretica2.jpg
Scientific classification
F. antipyretica
Binomial name
Fontinalis antipyretica

Fontinalis antipyretica, the antifever fontinalis moss,[2] greater water-moss,[3] or common water moss, is a species of submerged aquatic moss belonging to the subclass Bryidae. It is found in both still and flowing freshwater in Europe, Asia, North America and parts of Africa.


Fontinalis antipyretica (below)
in Flora Batava, 1846

Fontinalis antipyretica[a] has branched, trailing stems that are triangular in cross-section and may be as long as 60 cm (24 in). The leaves are quite stiff and are arranged in three overlapping rows. Each leaf is lance-shaped or egg-shaped, with a keel and a sharp point, some 4 to 9 mm (0.16 to 0.35 in) long. There are no flowers but minute spores are sometimes produced in smooth sporangia (capsules) between 2 and 2.6 mm (0.08 and 0.10 in) long.[4]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Fontinalis antipyretica is found in North America as far south as Pennsylvania and Arizona, and also in Europe, Asia and parts of Africa. It grows attached to submerged rocks in fast-flowing water. It also occurs attached to the substrate in lakes and as floating masses in still water, and may be cast up on beaches at the waterside.[4] It thrives in shady positions and prefers acid water, a pH of around 8.4 being the maximum tolerated.[4]


Reproduction is mostly by stolons or by the rooting of detached fragments. Sexual reproduction does also occur, in the spring in North America, but is relatively unimportant as a means of reproduction. Individual plants are either male or female and the capsules housing the spores are seldom observed.[5]


Fontinalis antipyretica grows in large clumps and mats and provides refuge for fish eggs and fry.[5] Numerous invertebrates shelter among the fronds; Chironomid larvae hide in the bases of the leaves and mayfly, caddisfly and stonefly larvae cling to the fronds, and in fast-flowing water black fly larvae are often present.[5] Diatoms and other microscopic algae grow epiphytically on the fronds.[5]

Heavy metal adsorption[edit]

It has been found that Fontinalis antipyretica can adsorb cadmium and zinc, with maximum biosorption of cadmium being 28 milligrams (0.43 gr) per gram of dried moss, and of zinc 11 to 15 milligrams (0.17 to 0.23 gr) (depending on water temperature). The biosorption of cadmium was unaffected by the hardness of the water but that of zinc was affected by rising calcium levels.[6]

Aquarium uses[edit]

Fontinalis antipyretica was traditionally used in cool-water aquaria,[7] but in tropical aquaria the similarly-structured "Java moss" ( a Vesicularia species) takes its place.


  1. ^ The name is new Latin, from Latin fons, spring (of water), anti, against, and Greek πυρ (pyr), fire, meaning "the water moss that stops fire", perhaps because it is very wet.


  1. ^ Vandepitte, Leen (2014). "Fontinalis antipyretica Hedw". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2015-01-29.
  2. ^ "Fontinalis antipyretica". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  3. ^ Edwards, Sean R. (2012). English Names for British Bryophytes. British Bryological Society Special Volume. 5 (4 ed.). Wootton, Northampton: British Bryological Society. ISBN 978-0-9561310-2-7. ISSN 0268-8034.
  4. ^ a b c "Fontinalis antipyretica Hedw.: Common water moss". Washington State Department of Ecology. Retrieved 2015-01-28.
  5. ^ a b c d Janice M. Glime. "Fontinalis". University of Massachusetts Amherst. Retrieved 2015-01-28.
  6. ^ Martins, R.J.; Pardo, R; Boaventura, R.A. (2004). "Cadmium(II) and zinc(II) adsorption by the aquatic moss Fontinalis antipyretica: effect of temperature, pH and water hardness". Water Research. 38 (3): 693–699. doi:10.1016/j.watres.2003.10.013. PMID 14723939.
  7. ^ William T. Innes, Exotic Aquarium Fishes, 19th ed. 1965:88.