News from IAB

The mission of the International Association of Bryologists (IAB), as a society, is to strengthen bryology by encouraging interactions among all persons interested in byophytes.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Abundant spring rains give new life to moss |

Abundant spring rains give new life to moss |

What do big red stem, knight's plume, tree skirt and Juniper's haircap have in common?

These are all names for different kinds of mosses. While most of us probably suspect that there is a varied and diverse world of mosses living in our woods, we have not taken the time to look for that diversity, namely because this is a group of organisms that can be incredibly difficult to identify. Mosses are tiny and the terminology used to describe them is daunting. Just take a look at a typical description "Rhizoids below leaf insertions are smooth; stem hyalodermis lacking...;. shoots julaceous (especially when dry)" Dense reading!

However, if you can look beyond, or learn a little bit about, the intricate technical anatomical details associated with this group, I guarantee you will be enchanted by the startling beauty of these tiny, ancient plants.

Mosses are members of a larger group of primitive plants called bryophytes. This group also includes the liverworts and hornworts. All of these are small, non-vascular plants, meaning they do not have the system of tubes to transport water and nutrients that vascular plants like ferns and flowers and trees do. They don't have roots, stems or flowers. Mosses are, in fact, more similar to algae than to other terrestrial plants.


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