News from the British Bryological Society

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100 Years of the British Bryological Society

Please join us in celebrating the centenary of the British Bryological Society. The BBS was inaugurated on the 1st January 1923, as the successor to the Moss Exchange Club which was formed in 1896. As the name implies, this late Victorian group focused on accumulating specimens in private collections many of which now reside in institutional herbaria. The modern BBS has an entirely different focus on bryophyte conservation, recording plant distributions, supporting and disseminating scientific research, teaching the next generations of bryologists, and spreading the message of the environmental value and significance of the bryophytes to landowners, conservation bodies and the wider general public.

The BBS supports the publication of peer reviewed international scientific research in the Journal of Bryology, published from 1972, and preceded by the Transactions of the British Bryological Society (1947-1971). Members also receive two copies a year of Field Bryology, which was instigated in 2003 by Marcus Yeo to publish popular and accessible articles on bryophytes with an emphasis on subjects of interest to the field bryologist.

Over the century the BBS has produced a wide range of publications from the series of Census Catalogues, the most recent in 2021 incorporating the changes in the new 2020 British and Irish Checklist, to the Atlases of British and Irish Bryophytes (1991-4, 2014), a series of Special Volumes, and The Field Guide (2010). The Society has also supported a number of members in the publication of taxonomic books.

As well as the widespread recording by members that provided the data for the Atlases and Census Catalogues, several research projects proposed by members have been supported over the years, with members contributing the necessary field data and this research resulting in papers published in Field Bryology or the Journal. Recent examples include SBAL, the survey of bryophytes of arable land, (Ron Porley), garden bryophytes (Des Callaghan), and BRECOG, the Bryophyte Ecology Group survey (Jeff Bates). The Tropical Bryophyte Group was active for many years and arranged several field meetings and workshops in East Africa and Reunion.

The BBS arranges at least two field meetings a year, usually in Britain and Ireland, with occasional European meetings. These are very popular with members, and the spring meeting particularly is usually very well attended. We are always pleased to welcome new participants, including beginners, so do come along and join us. If you consider yourself a complete beginner why not see if there is a recording group near you that you can join for some local days out and the chance to learn field identification. The first local bryophyte meeting was of the Cambridge Group held on 5 February 1938. We now have 25 local groups with more planned, and you will find a friendly welcome and the opportunity to learn from other bryologists. There are regular courses and workshops, some suited for those just starting to learn and other specialising in the taxonomy of specific problematic genera or families.

Over the years the BBS has evolved as times and technology changes, but the heart of the Society remains with the science, beauty and wonder of mosses, liverworts and hornworts.

National Moss Day

The first National Moss Day on 21st October was celebrated throughout the UK and Ireland with almost 30 events and exhibitions and the launch of at least 4 moss trails! A big thank-you to the many members who organised events or helped out in any way during the weekend (or before and after).

Introduction to Bryophytes

If you’ve ever been fascinated by the colourful and multi-textured array of mosses on a stone wall, stony ground or woodland floor, and wondered what they all are, then this section is for you. The Learning area of the website will introduce you to bryophytes and get you started identifying some of the common species around where you live.

Start here

Explore your area

…without even leaving the house. Many knowledgeable and experienced BBS members have contributed to the vice-county pages, describing what can be found in their local areas and giving hints and tips on places to visit. Read all about your vice-county before you head out.

Launch the Vice-county explorer

Species Finder

The Species Finder is your gateway to a wealth of information about the mosses, liverworts and hornworts to be found in the UK. Ultimately, we hope to include a page dedicated to each species, with identification tips, up-to-date distribution information, links to useful resources and an image gallery showing a range of images including habitat photos, close-ups and microscope images.

Browse our Species pages

Bryophyte of the month

Bryum pallens

Sw. ex anon.

Bryums have a bad reputation for being tricky to identify, but this specimen of B. pallens (Pale Thread Moss) growing on rocks by a reservoir on Ben Lawers didn’t pose too much of a problem thanks to it’s salmon-pink colour and distinctly concave leaves. Seen here growing with Bryum pseudotriquetrum and the liverwort Blasia pusilla with it’s characteristic gemmae.

Learn More

Our upcoming events

We have a full programme of events at both national and local levels. Please click the link below for details.

See all our upcoming events

Gloucestershire Group: Ninewells Wood / Cleddon Bog

3 December 2023 (10:30 - 16:00)

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Irish Group: Trooperstown Hill

9 December 2023 (10:30 - 16:00) | Trooperstown Hill, Co. Wicklow

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