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So – what is a bryophyte? Well, in a nutshell, it’s the collective name for mosses, liverworts and hornworts – and most people have some idea of what mosses look like, even if it is just as ‘that annoying green stuff that tries to take over my lawn’. If you’d like to know more though, you’re in the right place. Whether you’re a complete beginner, have got to grips with some of the common species but are struggling to make any more progress, or are an experienced and knowledgeable bryologist – there is always something more to learn.
If you’ve never looked at a moss or a liverwort in detail, and don’t know the first thing about them, read About bryophytes to get an idea of what makes up a bryophyte and the huge variety of mosses and liverworts that live in the British Isles – even in the middle of big cities.
Then check out our Getting started page to find out what you need to start studying bryophytes, and how you can get help. You will find pictures and identification tips for some of the commonest bryophytes you might find near you on the Some common bryophytes page.
Once you get the bug (and we hope you do) you will soon come to the conclusion that you need to invest in a microscope – or two – in order to advance beyond the distinctive species that can be recognized in the field. Don’t be put off! Again, the Getting started page has some tips.
Many people find that – with a little effort – they soon start to recognize some of the most common and distinctive species. But it is a difficult and frustrating path to get to the next level – especially as many bryologists take a break over the summer because bryophytes in drier areas of the country are just too crispy, and field meetings tend to run only during the cooler, wetter months. You might find the Species finder useful, with lots of ID hints and images for each species and a helpful section on similar species.
Even experts might find some new tips to try on our Tips & Techniques page – and remember, please share any ideas of your own by emailing the website editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bryophytes are a group of plants that include mosses, liverworts and hornworts. Currently there are 1098 species of bryophyte in Britain and Ireland, which represents around 58 percent of the total European flora. Conversely, our islands have less than 20 per cent of the European flowering plants.
Starting out in the study of bryophytes can be a lonely business. Your friends and family may have problems understanding the attraction of these jewels of the plant kingdom. Fortunately, help is at hand from the British Bryological Society, which will welcome you as a member and support you along the way.
Here you will find images and short descriptions of some of the most common mosses and liverworts, just to get you started. The chances are you will be able to find many of these species close to home. Use these to familiarise yourself with some of the terminology, and what to look for when trying to identify a moss or a liverwort.
The Species Finder is your gateway to a wealth of information about the mosses, liverworts and hornworts to be found in the UK. Each species page will have 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.