Trichopherophyton sectionsTrichopherophyton sporangia
deutsche Version

Among the early land plants found in the Rhynie chert, Trichopherophyton is distinguished by pointed bristles on its upper parts, meant to deter herbivores (Fig.1). Fragmentary sporangia contours seen on chert samples (Fig.2) are easily confused with those of Ventarura [1] or Asteroxylon [2] unless some of the sparsely distributed bristles are seen attached or nearby.

Fig.1 (right): Trichopherophyton cross-sections with bristles, shrivelled ones on the left; fungus hyphae coated with white chalcedony. Image width 7mm.

Remarkably, Trichopherophyton sporangia contours are seen in Figs.2,3 on two mutually perpendicular fracture faces forming an edge on this chert sample. Note that the filled sporangium in Fig.3 is the same as the left one in Fig.2, and the empty sporangium in Fig.3 is the same as the middle one in Fig.2. Blurred details in Fig.2 are due to uneven face.

Trichopherophyton sporangiaFig.2 (right): Raw sample edge with Trichopherophyton sporangia with open slots; vaguely seen bristles mostly detached.

Fig.3 (below far right): Same sample edge as in Fig.2, view on the face beyond the edge, shifted to the right.

Image width 5mm. Same scale for Figs.2-6.

                                                                                   Trichopherophyton sporangia
What is hidden below the mass of spores in Fig.2 is seen in Fig.3: It is a broad pale part of sporangium wall surrounding a likewise pale pad of tissue. Apparently the empty sporangium with different orientation on the right in Fig.3 shows the natural fracture face incidentally cutting through an irregular boundary like the one seen in the left sporangium.

Trichopherophyton sporangium

Fig.4 (right): Trichopherophyton sporangium on the raw sample surface, same sample as Figs.1-3;

spores with differential stages of development and preservation for reasons unknown.

The dark spores seem to be not fully developed but affected with black microbial coatings. Partially they are still arranged in rows.  
          Trichopherophyton sporangiaTrichopherophyton sporangium

Fig.5 (far left): Cluster of sporangia with open slots; Trichopherophyton bristles on the right.   

Fig.6:Trichopherophyton sporangium with bristle.

The 3-D shape of Trichopherophyton sporangia is not easily derived from the sections in Figs.2-6. Possibly a model drawing for Asteroxylon sporangia in [2] comes close to this case, too. 


Rh4/74 (0.17kg) found in 2000: Figs.1-4.
Rh15/78.2 (0.58kg) from Barron 2004: Fig.5.
Rh2/71.3 (3.22kg) found in 2001: Fig.6.

 H.-J. Weiss     2021

[2] H. Kerp, C.H. Wellmann, M. Krings, P. Kearney, H. Hass: 

     Reproductive organs and in-situ spores of Asteroxylon ...  Int. J. Plant Sci. 174(3), 293-308, 2013.

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