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The Bryophyte Challenge!. An introduction to recognisable Bryophyte species of Urban Parks. Introduction: This introduction will cover Bryophytes and pick on 11 species easily identifiable, under-recorded and often found hidden away in Urban parks and gardens. Search and Find:

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The bryophyte challenge

The Bryophyte Challenge!

An introduction to recognisable Bryophyte species of Urban Parks

  • Introduction:

    • This introduction will cover Bryophytes and pick on 11 species easily identifiable, under-recorded and often found hidden away in Urban parks and gardens.

  • Search and Find:

    • Using your newly discovered identification skills and passion for Bryophytes we will head into the park to see them in their natural environment.

  • Identification and Q & A:

    • After collecting samples in the field we will bring them back to MBB for examination and to further describe key features this can then be followed by discussion & questions.

What is a bryophyte
What is a Bryophyte!?

  • They are small, (mostly) green, non-flowering plants! Often referred to as “lower plants”.

  • There Three‘Groups’ (Hornworts (4), Liverworts (300), Mosses (763)*).

  • They reproduce by spores and/or vegetatively including through the use of gemmae and tubers.


  • Liverworts rarely have leaf nerves and produce spores differently to mosses (i.e. they produce them from side splitting capsules on translucent stalks)

  • The can be grouped into two categories

leafy-liverworts: marked stem and leaves.

thallose Liverworts: no distinct stem or leaves.


  • Many more mosses than Liverworts, they are more typically ‘plant-like’ and produce their spores from capsules (like seed-pods) that open at the end.

  • Mosses can also be grouped into 2 categories:

  • acrocarps: species that grow upright with capsules

  • from the top of the stem.

  • pleurocarps: species that grow in a spreading fashion

  • often forming mats with capsules from the sides of main stems.

Why bother with bryophytes
Why bother with Bryophytes?

  • The British Isles are fantastic for them

    • The conditions of Britain and Ireland make them prime habitats for Bryophyte species with around two thirds of all European species being found here in comparison with only around a sixth of all European flowering plants and ferns, giving us not only fantastic Bryophyte diversity but making us home to some globally rare species.

  • They are under-represented!

    • So few naturalists study Bryophytes in comparison with flowering plants and ferns that it is very easy to contribute important and previously unknown information as to the distribution, life-cycle and general understanding of our Bryoflora.

  • They are accessible

    • One of the best things for an amateur naturalists who is interested in learning a new group; Bryophytes are visible and accessible all year round on top of that they wont run, fly or swim away from you!

So where do i start
So where do I start?

  • Take up the challenge!

  • Remember they are not as complex as they may first appear..

  • Go out and take a look

  • Start to build up your own reference collection

11 species of parkland bryophyte

11 Species of Parkland Bryophyte

Some species of moss and liverwort that can be found around the Court Hey Park

Lophocolea bidentata / heterophylla– 194 records

Also known as the Bifid and Crescent leaved Crestwortsleafy liverworts, distinctive because of their size and leafyappearance, with shoots often several centimetres long,often found woven in with grasses and other BryophytesHabitat: Areas of un-disturbed Damp, shaded and moist grassland, also on rocks, plants and heathland in theright conditions.

Lunularia cruciata

  • Also known as the Crescent-cup Liverwort

  • A thalloseliverwort, similar in appearance to Marchantiapolymorpha with the exception of its crescent moon shaped gemmae cups.

  • This liverwort can form extensive mats.

  • Habitat: L. cruciata favours damp and shaded habitat, in particular bare surfaces. It can often be found growing low on brick walls

  • where it is shaded behind larger plants.

Marchantia polymorpha

  • The Common Liverwort (subsp. ruderalis) and Star-headed Liverwort (subsp. polymorpha)

    This thallose liverwort can form large mats on almost

    any bare surface, the subspecies can be separated

    easily by looking at the ‘midrib’, ruderalis has a dotted

    line, while polymorpha has a broad complete line both

    produce a cylindrical gemmae cup with jagged edges.

    Habitat: often makes use of man made habitats often being found along the joins of paving stones or almost any other urban bare ground or earth.

Kindbergia praelonga

  • The Common Feather-moss

    One of our commonest mosses its most recognisable feature’s are the wider steam leaves (which give the stem a fattened look) and the regular pinnate branching.

    Habitat: This species occurs regularly in parks and grassland amongst turf and forming loose carpets over woodland often climbing the bases of trees generally favouring sheltered fairly damp conditions.

Tortula muralis

  • Or Wall Screw-moss

    One of the smaller distinct mosses forming small tufts or with distinctive silvery nerve from a leaf that curls when dry and a slim pointed capsule held high on a orange seta when visible the capsule teeth are tightly twisted.

    Habitat: This moss favours base-rich environments, often in urban areas this takes the form of old brick mortar but will also use concrete, roof tiles etc..

Grimmia pulvinata

  • Grey-cushioned Grimmia (or Grey-pincushion)

    Not to be confused with T. muralis! Forms larger and much denser cushions but also with silvery nerve the capsules confirm as they are small and rounded on a seta that bends back into the plant.

    Habitat: Often found alongside T. muralis and

    favours similar habitat and so is often found

    along the mortar of brick walls or on base-rich


Campylopus introflexus

  • Heath Star-moss

    A tall distinctive species forming dark green patches that

    lighten towards the tips, when dry the shoots are tightly closed

    with the silver hair point bent back at the tip of the shoot,

    when wet the leaves at the head spread to form a star-burst.

    Habitat: In urban areas this species can most regularly be found

    In plant pots or on rotting tree stumps, posts and other dead wood.

Bryum argenteum

  • Silver-moss

    A very urban species, this moss benefits from nitrate enrichment and flourishes in disturbed habitats, also very distinctive, forming small pale green cylindrical shoots with silver/white tips.

    Habitat: pavement cracks, compact and disturbed ground at the edges of tracks and paths, plant pots, sand-dunes, stream or river banks.

Bryum capillare

  • Capillary Thread-moss

    When wet this species has an almost star or flower-like

    look from above, however when dry the leaves curl

    tightly and the shoot looks a little like a thread..

    The leaf tip extends into a short hair and the moss

    regularly produces capsules.

    Habitat: This moss is very common and widespread and can be found in almost any habitat growing on any substrate to various sizes.

Calliergonella cuspidata

  • Pointed Spear-moss

    One of the more recognisable species with a leaves that curl together at the end of the shoot or branch to form sharp points, the branches themselves are irregular.

    Habitat: commonly found in wetland habitats but can occur in almost any situation where wet enough, such as waterlogged turf or soil.

Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus

  • Springy Turf-moss

    Highly distinctive moss, grows in amongst grasses and other mosses, it is irregularly branched and covered in leaves that bend sharply back on themselves. The head of the shoot spreads to become star-like which is noticeable even from a distance.

    Habitat: Various grassland, especially where slightly

    sheltered and damp can form extensive patches.