The systematics of Frullaniaceae is traditionally based mainly on characters of the gametophyte, while the relevance of sporophytic characters has, with few exceptions, not yet been critically investigated. However, there are many potentially useful taxonomic and phylogenetic characters associated with the sporophyte and critical examination of these is essential for any modern systematic study of the group. Various factors have contributed towards the paucity of detailed sporophytic examination. Firstly, sporophytes for critical taxa were unknown until recently, and secondly, morphological and anatomical characters associated with the sporophyte are frequently difficult to objectively analyse and draw. The practical difficulties in examining these characters include: the three dimensional structure of the capsule wall thickenings and the surface ornamentations of the spores and elaters; the often very small size of the valves; and their heavy pigmentation. Therefore, special preparative and microtechnical procedures are required to examine characters associated with the sporophyte, especially the different layers of the capsule wall. Here we present, results of our comparative studies using new techniques that largely overcome these difficulties in interpretation and analysis. These techniques can also potentially be applied to other hepatic genera and families and to other types of tissue with appropriate modifications. Characters evaluated include: anatomy of capsule wall thickenings; elater number and arrangement; and surface ultrastructure of the capsule walls, elaters, and spores. The taxonomic and phylogenetic value of these characters for several Frullania species is discussed.

Key words: capsule wall, Frullania, Frullaniaceae, spores, sporophytes, systematics