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The Scientific Name of Java Moss


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The Scientific Name of Java Moss

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Once upon a time (actually the date was not very far away), nobody has ever doubted on the scientific name of Java Moss, which was well known in the aquarium communities as Vesicularia dubyana.

At some point in time around Jan 2004, an NUS (National University of Singapore) scientist, Professor Benito Tan, received the prestigious Richard Spruce Award, for his work on mosses in the Malesian region. A group of hobbyist in Singapore then had a chance to get to know Dr Benito Tan, and from then on, things began to unfold and with Dr Benito Tan's expertise, the scientific names of various aquatic moss have been identified.

In Jan 2005, Dr Benito Tan, together with Loh Kwek Leong and Gan Cheong Weei, published an article - "A case of mistaken identity? What is the true identity of Java Moss and other aquarium mosses sold in Singapore shops?" in Vol 102 of the Singapore Scientist, a publication by the Singapore Science Center.

** Note that the above article is provided for personal viewing and must not be copied, distributed or reproduced without the permission from Singapore Science Center.

The following were quoted from the article:

The Java Moss has been identified many years ago by Prof. Zen Iwatsuki at the Hattori Botanical Laboratory in Japan as a species of Taxiphyllum - Taxiphyllum barbieri (Card. & Coppey) Iwats. (Iwatsuki 1982). The name is based on a comparison of the Java Moss grown in Japan and the herbarium specimen of Taxiphyllum barbieri from Vietnam. Because of the lack of moss specimens with spore structures (fruiting specimens), this identification of Java Moss has to be accepted with reservation.

For some unknown reason, the Java Moss found locally would not produce capsules. And without the capsules and spores, Dr. Benito Tan could not confirm on the species name. Hence, the scientific name of Java Moss of Taxiphyllum barbieri will have to be accepted currently, with some reservation.

As such, if anyone ever find any capsules growing on your Java Moss, it would mean a great deal to scientific research. Please let me know so that the Java Moss sample could be sent to Dr Benito Tan to confirm on the identity of the Java Moss.

The detail happenings about the Aquatic Mosses has been discussed and documented at the following forum threads at

However, that forum is no longer available. The contents have been merged with another forum at You can view all the past threads at that Aquatic Moss Club section.

For more information about mosses found in Malesian region, you can visit the following database by Dr Benito Tan:


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Last update: May 2013

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