Physcomitrella, as traditionally defined, accommodates certain Funariaceae with immersed and cleistocarpous capsules. Recent molecular inferences revealed that the three or four taxa typically recognized within Physcomitrella did not arise from a unique common ancestor, and hence that their morphological similarities likely resulted from convergence, while one potential taxon, P. patens subsp. californica ( = Physcomitridium readeri s.l.), is currently regarded as a polyphyletic entity, making Physcomitridium polyphyletic. Following recent discoveries that would greatly expand the known range of two taxa, we sampled populations of Physcomitrella s.l. from all main geographic regions, and sequenced the nuclear ITS regions and four plastid loci to assess the geographic circumscription of each clade. We recovered three unambiguous monophyletic entities matching the three morphotypes recognized by Fife, each with a distinct geographic range: Physcomitrella patens s.str. with a range in Europe and North America extended to East Asia (China); P. magdalenae with a range from West and Central Africa extended eastwards to Ethiopia; and Physcomitridium (Physcomitrella) readeri from western Europe and western North America to Japan and Australia, plus a doubtful occurrence in China. Although the distinction of P. californica from P. readeri remains doubtful, we reject the hypothesis that Physcomitridium is polyphyletic, arguing that this resulted from a misidentification of the sequenced voucher.
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Vol. 118 • No. 1