Bryolog 32 (25 May 2023)


  • Students doing research on mosses, liverworts, or hornworts in California are encouraged to apply for our mini-grants and travel scholarships. Deadline is 01 July. Details HERE

Quarterly Report

  • Chapter election results HERE
  • Report on Crystal Lake walk HERE

Timeless Bits

  • In Search of Fissidens fontanus, by John McLaughlin, HERE
  • Oil Bodies Photo Gallery, by David Wagner, HERE

Election Results

Bill Theissen was elected to a second term as Field Trip Director. Thank you, Bill, for continuing your service to the Chapter! Amanda Heinrich was elected Secretary. A big thanks to out-going Secretary Larke Reeber for serving two terms!

Crystal Lake Bryophyte Walk

On 20 May 2023, Chapter Liaisons Neil Uelman and Kirsten Fisher led a bryophyte walk for the San Gabriel Mountains Chapter at Crystal Lake Recreation Area in the Angeles National Forest. We had a fantastic turnout of bryo-enthusiasts, and enjoyed mosses and some vascular plants in their full springtime splendor. Many thanks to the San Gabriel Mountains Chapter for sponsoring this event! Check out the photos below of humans enjoying bryophytes.

people looking at plants along trailpeople looking at plants on a boulderpeople along trail

In Search of Fissidens fontanus

—John McLaughlin, SJSU Biological Sciences Graduate Student

On the second weekend of May 2023, I and fellow biologists of the CNPS bryophyte chapter, Larke Reeber, Charlotte Miranda, and Anna Scharnagl, ventured into Henry W. Coe State Park in search of the particularly elusive moss, Fissidens fontanus.

Almost two years earlier, in the fall of 2021, the first bryological expedition to Pacheco Falls was held. On this trip, Larke Reeber and Jim Shevock joined. I recall the hills being covered in golden brown grasses, and once we had reached the towering falls, I was disappointed to find but a trickle of water running down the slick green rocky face, and a murky, algae-filled pond below, with its edges covered in poison oak. We did our best to inventory the area; however, I was disheartened that one of the state park’s most famous landmarks showed no immediate results. Later, Jim told me that David Toren had looked at one of his collections from that day and found a fragment of F. fontanus among the other plants. Unfortunately, it was not enough material to produce a voucher for this new record. I was determined to return one day.

Back to the present: we entered the park from the southern entrance near Gilroy Hot Springs at 10 am. After passing through the gate, we traveled approximately 15 miles inside the park on dirt roads that wound around steep hillsides and went up and down narrow ridgelines. Eventually reaching the trailhead for Pacheco Falls, we hiked down a steep 750 ft decline after 1.5 miles. I was the first to arrive at the falls and was surprised by the roaring water above, and the crystal clear water with sizable fishes swimming below.

Pacheco Falls

This time I came prepared with swim trunks underneath my hiking pants, and I jumped into the refreshing but cold creek water, swimming to the first suspected substrate, a large partially inundated branch of Populus fremontii. The sides of the branch were covered in Scleropodium, but still no sign of the Fissidens. Eventually, I reached underneath the branch and tried to peel off a portion of the rugged bark. When I pulled it up, there it was! After some effort to find the right perspective on the soggy handful, I was able to see the linear leaves that distinguish F. fontanus from the local members of the genus. After swimming some more, I noticed it was also on the submerged portion of the rocks bordering the pool.

moss in water
Fissidens fontanus

F. fontanus is uncommon in California compared to its occurrence in the eastern United States. This probably has something to do with California’s climate, as well as the lack of bryologists willing to get a little wet! I am grateful for those who made this discovery possible and for the bryophytes that continue to make my weekends.

Photo Gallery: Oil Bodies

Most liverworts contain intracellular organelles called oil bodies, which contain terpenoid oils and other aromatic compounds along with carbohydrates and proteins. The function of oil bodies is not clearly understood, although there is good evidence they deter herbivory in some species. Their diversity of size, shape, color, number per cell, and chemical composition, has helped bryologists to classify and identify taxa. And they sure are cute! Oil bodies disappear from many species when a herbarium specimen is dried, so when identifying leafy liverworts in particular, be sure to photograph or note the number, size, shape and color of oil bodies in the leaf cells of fresh plants. Check out a sampling in David Wagner’s beautiful photos below, all from species found in California.

cells with oil bodies
Calypogeia azurea, CC BY-NC David Wagner


cells with oil bodies
Gymnocolea inflata


cells with oil bodies
Marsupella sphacelata


cells with oil bodies
Jungermannia eucordifolia

To purchase David Wagner’s Guide to Liverworts of Oregon on flash drive, email


To suggest a topic and/or contribute photos to future galleries, please email


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