Bryolog 35 (23 February 2024)


As a general policy, check the website for event updates before you walk out the door!

  • Please vote for President Elect and Treasurer. LINK TO BALLOT
  • “Introduction to Bryophytes” Jepson Workshop, 9–10 March 2024. MORE
  • Bryophyte tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Berkeley, Sunday 10 March 2024. MORE
  • Rancho Palos Verdes Bryophyte Stroll, 23 March 2024, 9-11 am. MORE
  • Registration is still open for SO BE FREE 28, 29 March–01 April 2024 at the Santa Rita Experimental Range in Green Valley, Arizona. MORE
  • Monthly meeting, 25 April 2024, 7 pm PST on Zoom. MORE
  • Registration is open for the ABLS meeting, 11–14 July 2024 at the Shawnee Lodge and Conference Center in West Portsmouth, Ohio.

Quarterly Report

  • Our first and second monthly meetings were smashing successes. MORE

Timeless Bits

  • Kelly Allred, Russ Kleinman and Karen Blissard published Flora Neomexicana IV: Bryophytes. MORE
  • Is Fossombronia wondraczekii Found in California? by David H. Wagner. HERE
  • Jim Shevock speaks for the mosses in the San Francisco Chronicle. HERE

Regional Parks Botanic Garden Bryophyte Tours

The North American Rock Garden is hosting a Winter Study Weekend in California Sunday 10 March 2024 they will be at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Berkeley. Bryophyte tours will be leaving from the visitor center starting at 12:45, 1:15 and 2:00 pm. Admission to the garden and all other scheduled morning talks (at the Brazilian Room) is free.

George F Canyon Nature Trail Bryophyte Stroll

23 March 2024, 9–11 am. Come for a stroll with Neil Uelman and the CNPS South Coast Chapter up the George F Canyon Nature Trail (willow riparian canyon), looking for bryophytes. Beginners welcomed! Mild hike. Bring a hand lens or magnifying glass if you have one. Meet on the back deck of the George F Canyon Nature Center, 27305 Palos Verdes Dr. E, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. Rain will cancel the hike. Contact:

Mosses on soil
A sampling of George F Canyon mosses, CC BY-NC Neil Uelman

Inaugural Monthly Meetings Report

The first Bryophyte Chapter Monthly Meeting was held on 25 January 2024, with 25 members convening on Zoom to celebrate the tiny plants we all love.

Jordan Collins presided over the meeting with poise and spunk, and introduced us to Today’s Taxon, the distinctive moss, Ptychomitrium gardneri, with its insanely serrated leaves and darling lobed calyptrae.

John McLaughlin set the bar high with a short, inspiring talk about his Master’s Thesis work on the bryophytes of Henry Coe State Park, flashing many beautiful photos before our eyes of just a smattering of the 177 species from his 1500 collections.

Paul Wilson invited us to peer through his microscopes at two Sphagnum species, which he had ingeniously stained blue using a watercolor pencil, allowing us to clearly see the fibrils within the cortical cells of the stems of one species, and the lack thereof in the other, walking us through the first couplet of the Sphagnum key. Brent Mishler chimed in with his wealth of Sphagnum knowledge and we were blown away by the skinny green chlorophyll-laden cells snuggled between the large empty hyaline cells, not to mention the huge pores which allow the plants to take up water like a sponge.

Russ Kleinman showed off Flora Neomexicana IV: Bryophytes, which he and Kelly Allred and Karen Blisard recently published, a spectacular labor of love now available for sale, both in hard cover with high quality photos, and in paperback at an affordable price HERE. Or download it for free!

Our second Monthly Meeting, held on 22 February 2024, was equally successful, with 25 members joining in to savor the minute ephemeral moss, Ephemerum serratum, and some of its accomplices, in Amanda Heinrich’s Taxon of Today segment. Chris Wagner-Coshland followed with an excellent talk on bryophyte collections for herbaria, which generated much lively discussion.

Be sure to join us for the next Monthly Meeting, 25 April 2024 at 7 pm PST on Zoom, and for every meeting thereafter, the fourth Thursday of most months, with the exception of March 2024, when many of us will be at SO BE FREE!

Introduction to Bryophytes

Brent Mishler and John McLaughlin will teach a Jepson Workshop on bryophytes, 9–10 March 2024 at the University of California, Berkeley, and Redwood Regional Park. This workshop will provide you with the opportunity to learn more about the biology and identification of mosses, liverworts, and hornworts. It will introduce you to the strange and wonderful world of these small but important plants. They are maximally different from their kin, the larger vascular plants; you’ll learn why it is said that “Mosses are from Mars, vascular plants are from Venus.” Plan to experience the 30th anniversary of this legendary workshop, first taught in 1994! All day Saturday, and Sunday morning, we will meet in the Valley Life Sciences Building (VLSB) on the UC Berkeley campus for presentations and a hands-on introduction to how to make microscopic preparations and identify bryophytes. Sunday afternoon we will migrate to a local field site for brown bag lunch plus an afternoon field trip to learn about these plants in the field.

For a preview, see recordings from the 2022 workshop.

Details and registration form.

Flora Neomexicana IV: Bryophytes

Kelly W. Allred, Russ Kleinman, & Karen S. Blisard published their incredible 559 page tome of the 482 bryophytes of New Mexico, which includes identification keys, species descriptions, distribution maps, and numerous gorgeous photographs of each species. Buy it HERE or DOWNLOAD for free!

Is Fossombronia wondraczekii Found in California?

—David H. Wagner
Northwest Botanical Institute, Eugene, Oregon

Over the past 40 years, I have been saving spores of fertile plants of the liverwort genus Fossombronia. The genus is easy to recognize with a hand lens, looking like creeping shoots with leaves like crispy lettuce. The BBS handbook of English Names for British Bryophytes (Edwards 2003) offers Frillwort as a suitable name for the genus. The plants have a relatively brief appearance in the spring at low elevations of the western states, sometimes perennial by overwintering bulbils, but most are ephemeral annuals. They are frequently found growing in packed soil of roadcuts, trail sides, and ledges of cliffs and outcrops. They are generally too variable in leaf and stem morphology to identify without mature spores. The past few weeks I’ve reviewed my trove of microscope slide mounts. Some were mounted in Hoyer’s mountant, some in plain glycerine.

I’ve recently taken pictures of 25 or so spore collections and, in the process, satisfied myself that I have mastered the five species found from California to British Columbia. Drawings from traditional taxonomic literature do not do them justice. Using stacking software with a compound microscope, photomicrographs closely match the details seen with Scanning Electron Microscope images. The optical microscope images are likely to be more useful to students because they match what anybody can see in their lab scopes.

Fossombronia wondraczekii has always been a puzzle to me. Its distribution in North America has been unclear. I have used the name on my collections in early days but haven’t trusted my IDs. I’ve confused it with F. pusilla and F. longiseta, well known in California and Oregon. The 1977 checklist of North American Liverworts lists it, and again it is mentioned in the 2017 Synopsis of North American Liverworts, both by Ray Stotler and Barbara Crandall-Stotler. In the latter, a report from Oregon is mentioned.

However, in the treatment of Fossombronia for the Flora of North America, Vol. 29, the authors (Crandall-Stotler and Bray 2019) write, “… all reports of this species from California and Oregon are based on misidentifications of F. longiseta.” I believe that is the correct ID for one of my earliest collections, from Muir Woods, Marin County, California (DHW 3042, in 1983). The slide has preserved the spores well. It’s my hope that liverwort enthusiasts in California will review their collections, personal as well in public herbaria. I’m expecting more records will turn up.

The following document is a bare bones picture key to all the Fossombronia of our area. I expect it will result in new records for the rare ones.

Here is a photo of the Marin County spores:

Micrograph of spores and elators
Fossombronia wondraczekii Muir Woods, CA, CC BY-NC David Wagner

Guide to Liverworts of Oregon: Key to Fossombronia 1

Parts of the liverwort labeledmicrograph of spores and elators
1a Capsule elevated well above involucre, seta 1 cm or longer when mature; spores with angled lamellae or spines; leaves loose or sometimes closely packed but not regularly folded; widespread at low elevations in western Oregon ….. COUPLET 2

MacrographMicrograph of spores and elators
1b Capsule immersed or emergent from involucre on 1-2 mm seta; spores alveolate, with a network of ridges and depressions; leaves irregularly folded or regularly plicate-imbricate; coastal strip to subalpine ….. COUPLET 4

Guide to Liverworts of Oregon: Key to Fossombronia 2

macrographmicrograph of spores and elators
2a Spores with lamellae close together, sometimes the ridges very short and more like spines; spores 10-12 lamellae wide; not verified from Oregon but common in California ….. Fossombronia longiseta

micrograph of spores
2b Spores with lamellae at least as far apart as the lamellae are high; spores 7-8 lamellae wide; abundance variable ….. COUPLET 3

Guide to Liverworts of Oregon: Key to Fossombronia 3

micrograph of spores
3a Spores with lamellae as high as the space between the lamellae; the most common species in Oregon.
Fossombronia pusilla

micrograph of spores
3b Spores with lamellae less than half as high as the space between the lamellae; not common in Oregon.
Fossombronia wondraczekii

Guide to Liverworts of Oregon: Key to Fossombronia 4

Macrographmicrograph of spores
4a Spores 45-50 μm; released after tetrads have separated; seta usually short with capsule immersed in the involucre at maturity; leaves irregularly folded; monoicous. Widely distributed in Western North America ….. Fossombronia foveolata

macrographmicrograph of spores
4b Spores less than 25 μm, some remaining in tetrads when capsule is mature; capsule exserted from perianth on short seta at maturity; leaves imbricate-plicate; dioicous. Known in North America from a single site in Oregon. Possibly extinct ….. Fossombronia incurva


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