Bryolog 36 (21 May 2024)


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

  • Fourth Thursdays monthly meeting 23 May 2024 at 7 pm PT on Zoom. MORE
  • Save the date for SO BE FREE 29, 30 May–02 June 2025 in Humboldt County, CA
  • Torrey Pines bryophyte and lichen surveys are now being conducted on alternate Fridays. MORE

Quarterly Report

  • Message from our new President, Kirsten Fisher HERE
  • Rancho Palos Verdes bryophyte stroll photos HERE
  • A warm welcome to our new Treasurer, Jordan Collins, and President Elect, Jenna Ekwealor. MORE
  • SO BE FREE 28 in Green Valley was a delight! Plenty of photos in the report HERE
  • April Monthly Meeting summary, including Brent Mishler’s Syntrichia talk HERE
  • We were pleased to award Matthew Yamamoto a research grant. MORE

Upcoming Monthly Meeting: Thursday 23 May 2024, 7 pm PT on Zoom

Today’s Taxon: Paul Wilson will present Physcomitrium, including Californian representatives, as well as the model moss, P. patens.

Physcomitrium readeri moss
Physcomitrium readeri. CC BY-NC Paul Wilson

Featured Speaker: Ben Carter will discuss the finer points of identifying the six species of Scleropodium in the field and under the microscope.

Scleropodium occidentale moss with sporophytes
Scleropodium occidentale, CC BY-NC Ben Carter

Lichen and Bryophyte Survey at Torrey Pines

Dates of the ongoing survey of lichens and bryophytes at the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in San Diego have been changed to every other Friday. To join the survey team, please contact Chris Wagner, mossgeek(at)

Message from the President

—Kirsten Fisher

Hello bryophyte enthusiasts! I am delighted and honored to be serving as the Bryophyte Chapter president for the next two years. I am fortunate to be succeeding Ben Carter in this position, whose capable stewardship has made this transition very easy! I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank (and thank again) Kiamara Ludwig for her many years of service as the Chapter Treasurer and her role in founding the Chapter. Congratulations to Jordan Collins, our new Chapter Treasurer, and Jenna Ekwealor, our new President Elect! Jordan is currently a field biologist for our very own CNPS, and Jenna is an Assistant Professor at San Francisco State University, studying the ecology and evolution of Syntrichia. Thanks for joining us, Jordan and Jenna!

The Bryophyte Chapter strives to be inclusive of both professional and emerging bryologists in our programming as well as our governance; thus, our board members’ terms are relatively short and we encourage new participants in our chapter leadership. This coming year, we will be holding elections for our Secretary and Fieldtrip Director positions. You can learn more about our board positions on the About page. Please consider nominating yourself for one of these important roles!

Our chapter also recognizes the importance of supporting the next generation of California bryologists, and to that end we prioritize student travel and research grants within our budgeting and fundraising efforts. I’m happy to share that we recently awarded a Student Research Grant to Matthew Yamamoto, a graduate student at California Botanic Garden. You can read more about Matthew’s floristic research in this issue of Bryolog. Congratulations, Matthew!

This issue of Bryolog also provides a glimpse into the fabulous SO BE FREE held a little over a month ago at the Santa Rita Experimental Range in Green Valley, AZ. Huge thanks to our local organizer, Jason Brooks, for making SO BE FREE 28 such a memorable and fantastic event! Additional information on our next SO BE FREE 29 at Mattole Camp & Retreat Center in Humboldt County should be forthcoming, so please keep an eye out for it and consider joining us on an exceptionally bryo-diverse foray next year.

I’m so excited to serve the Bryophyte Chapter for the next two years, and humbled by how far the Presidents before me have propelled this Chapter in just a decade. If you have ideas, questions, or suggestions, feel free to reach out to me anytime at kfisher2(at) Thank you!

Rancho Palos Verdes Bryophyte Stroll Report

On 23 March 2024, 13 bryoenthusiasts joined Neil Uelman for a stroll up the George F Canyon Nature Trail in Rancho Palos Verdes. Several of the attendees were botany students from California State University Long Beach. Neil is the Bryophyte Chapter Liaison to the CNPS South Coast Chapter and has led many such hikes, spreading the bryophyte word. Thanks, Neil! If you would like to become a liaison to your local CNPS chapter, or if you would like to invite a member of the Bryophyte Chapter to lead a walk for your local chapter, don’t hesitate to reach out to Paul Wilson, paulsiriwilson(at)

people on trail listening to guide
Neil giving his spiel
people on trail
Strolling for bryophytes
girl looking at moss with magnifying lens
Taking a closer look

SO BE FREE 28 Report

29 March to 01 April 2024, Santa Rita Experimental Range, Green Valley, AZ
Organized by Jason Brooks, with assistance from Field Trip Director Bill Thiessen, and Treasurer Jordan Collins

The 28th annual SO BE FREE was held far afield in the sky islands of the Santa Rita Mountains of Southern Arizona, and was a special treat for the 53 attendees who braved the trek.

pine tree with Santa Rita Mountains
The Santa Rita Mountains, CC BY-NC Jordan Collins

We made our way up from the desert floor, dotted with towering saguaros, bulging barrel cacti and blossoming desert mallows, through mesquite-covered ranch land and into Florida Canyon, where the University of Arizona’s Santa Rita Experimental Range Station is nestled along a babbling creek, lined with a variety of oaks and sycamores.

Mesquite ranch land with Santa Rita Mountains
Mesquite ranch land with Santa Rita Mountains looming in the distance, CC BY-NC Jordan Collins
people standing in front of mountains
Registration fun at Florida Station, CC BY-NC Amanda Heinrich

It felt as though we had entered a parallel universe, where everything was at once familiar yet different, and multiple worlds were colliding, with cacti snuggling up against mosses.

man on rock with mosses and cacti
Zane Walker with mosses and cacti, CC BY-NC Jason Brooks
aloe plant on mountainside
The parallel universe of the Santa Rita Mountains, CC BY-NC Zane Walker

Many of us stayed in the station’s cabins, others camped onsite, and still others found more plush accommodations in neighboring Madera Canyon. We set up shop in the classroom building and convened for catered meals on tables and benches directly behind it, alongside the mellifluous creek.

people at microscopes
At the scopes in the classroom, CC BY-NC Chuck Anderson
sonoran hot dog
Sonoran Hot Dog, it’s what’s for dinner, CC BY-NC Jason Brooks

On Saturday, Brent Mishler led the traditional beginners’ group onsite, while the rest of the gang headed into the famously birdy Madera Canyon and hiked up either the Kent Springs Trail or the Mount Baldy Trail.

people eating lunch in forest
Kent Springs lunch crowd, CC BY-NC Stacey Anderson
people on trail next to rocks
Scoping the bryophyte and lichen scene along Mt. Baldy trail, CC BY-NC Jordan Collins
Broad-billed Hummingbird
The stunning Broad-billed Hummingbird, CC BY-NC John Game

On Sunday, some folks checked out the Madera Canyon Waterfall and/or the Kent Springs Trail, while others hiked directly from the station up Florida Canyon.

man standing in water collecting ferns
John Game braves the Madera Canyon Waterfall for Adiantum capillus-veneris, Southern Maidenhair Fern, CC BY-NC Russ Kleinman

Many of us met Braunia andrieuxii for the first time, having had a tantalizing taste of its family from our own Pseudobraunia californica. Hedwigia ciliata, another member of the same family, flourished alongside on the rocky outcrops, looking suspiciously variable; John Brinda advised us that it is likely a species complex with perhaps several different species hidden within the name.

Braunia andrieuxii moss
Braunia andrieuxii, with Hedwigia ciliata, Kent Springs trail, CC BY-NC Amanda Heinrich
Hedwigia ciliata moss
Hedwigia ciliata, Kent Springs Trail, CC BY-NC Amanda Heinrich
Schistidium rivulare moss on rock
Schistidium rivulare cascading over rocks in Florida Canyon, CC BY-NC Zane Walker

Liverworts were aplenty, with complex thallose species such as Reboulia hemisphaerica, Plagiochasma rupestre, P. wrightii, and Mannia californica forming large carpets under overhanging boulders, while leafy liverworts in the genus Frullania spread their delicate branches over shaded tree trunks and boulders, and Cephaloziella divaricata built significant mounds in full sun.

Reboulia hemisphaerica liverwort
Reboulia hemisphaerica, Kent Springs Trail, CC BY-NC Amanda Heinrich
Plagiochasma rupestre liverwort
Plagiochasma rupestre, Kent Springs Trail, CC BY-NC Amanda Heinrich
Cephaloziella divaricata leafy liverwort with mosses
Cephaloziella divaricata with moss friends, Florida Canyon, CC BY-NC Amanda Heinrich
Frullania leafy liverwort
Frullania sp., Mt. Baldy, CC BY-NC Jordan Collins

The hornwort Phaeoceros carolinianus was found in and above the Kent Springs Creek and was positively thriving along the creek banks in Florida Canyon.

Phaeoceros carolinianus hornwort
Phaeoceros carolinianus, Florida Canyon, CC BY-NC Amanda Heinrich

For many of us, the highlight was experiencing the lusciously red Plagiobryoides incrassatolimbatum in seeps and creeks, alongside another bright green Bryaceous beauty, whose name will soon be announced in a paper by David Toren, Jim Shevock and John Spence.

bryologists in a seep
Sharing a seep with Plagiobryoides incrassatolimbatum, CC BY-NC Jason Brooks


Luscious and red Plagiobryoides incrassatolimbatum with soon-to be-named green Ptychostomum, CC BY-NC Amanda Heinrich

In the evenings we diligently keyed specimens in the classroom, enjoyed lively conversation with friends, old and new, and held our annual meeting, complete with flash talks by students in attendance.

people at microscopes
Receiving much appreciated assistance from the expert, CC BY-NC Chris Wagner
people sitting in a circle
Circle of friends, CC BY-NC Chris Wagner

The largest cabin had an additional common space which was well used for further studies and late night parties.

people at a table
The living room, CC BY-NC Chris Wagner
people at a table
And party room, CC BY-NC Chris Wagner

On Sunday night, Stacey Anderson treated us to a performance of her song, “Until the Book is Done” sung to the tune of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” by Rodgers and Hammerstein, in celebration of the completion of the book, Flora Neomexicana IV: Bryophytes, by Kelly Allred, Russ Kleinman and Karen Blisard, a ten-year labor of dedication and friendship. Chris Wagner caught the act on film and it can be viewed here. Stacey kindly shared her lyrics and only half-jokingly suggested a karaoke session of bryophyte parodies at next year’s SO BE FREE—are you in?

Until The Book Is Done, lyrics by Stacey Anderson

When you search for a moss pull your boots on tight
And don’t be afraid to look down.
Misty homes of some moss will have little light
But a green liverwort may be found.
Search on through the key
Search on through the scope
Though it’s just Cer-at-o-don.   (alt. Though cross-sec-tion-ing’s not fun)
Search on, search on, one step at a time   (alt. Search on, search, on, with friends by your side)
Till the Big Green Book is done,
Until the book is done!

Monday brought rain, much to the delight of the bryophytes, but to the chagrin of the bryologists, who headed home. Many thanks to Jason Brooks, our local organizer, for an amazing trip!

many people posing for photo under a tree
Most of the group, before a rainy departure, photo care of our fearless caterer, DAM Good Food.

For a few more photos, check out the SBF 28 Archive page.

For a growing list of species collected on the foray, see the google doc.

April Chapter Meeting Summary

On Thursday 25 April 2024, 23 dedicated moss lovers convened on Zoom for our third monthly CNPS Bryophyte Chapter meeting. Jordan Collins, our cheerful MC, led with a few announcements, and a slideshow of our 28th annual meeting and foray, SO BE FREE, which was held at the end of March in the Santa Rita Mountains of Southern Arizona. If you missed the show, fear not—many photos are featured in the SO BE FREE report in this issue of Bryolog, as well as on the SBF 28 archive page.

Brent Mishler followed with a talk on the Syntrichia ruralis complex, highlighting key couplets 11-13 in his FNA Syntrichia treatment, with plenty of enriching background information and juicy tips.

Some of the highlights and key points were as follows:

  • Mosses in the genus Syntrichia have a very abrupt transition between the large basal leaf cells and the smaller upper leaf cells, in contrast to the much more gradual transition seen in the leaves of mosses in the genus Tortula.
  • The genus name, Syn·trichia, refers to the hair-like (trichia) filaments of the peristome, which are free at the apex but fused (syn) at the base.
  • Syntrichia species typically have leaves with a hairpoint, but not always.
  • The genus has representatives in a wide variety of habitats, from arid deserts to mesic woodlands and into the alpine.
  • Some Syntrichia species are important components of biocrust communities, and serve as habitats for microscopic animals and seedbeds for angiosperms.
  • Evolutionarily, Syntrichia underwent a major radiation in the Northern Hemisphere in the Miocene, about the same time as the manzanitas did, with different species evolving to adapt to different habitats. This radiation includes the Syntrichia ruralis group and the S. caninervis group, and contains many cryptic, as yet unnamed clades, leading to a messy taxonomy. Despite superficial similarities, S. princeps is relatively distantly related compared to this Miocene radiation.
  • Many of the key differences between Syntrichia species are only visible in leaf cross-sections. Assessing the presence or absence of hydroids, which are thought to be non-functional analogs of xylem, can be particularly tricky because their delicate cell walls may break easily during sectioning. However, even when the thin cell walls of the hydroid cells are broken, the space left behind is visible in the crotch below the two large guide cells and above the smaller, thick-walled stereid cells. See Ken Kellman’s helpful photographic guide to hydroids on our Advances page, originally published in Western Bryology.
  • Syntrichia ruralis leaf margins are recurved nearly to the apex, whereas those of S. norvegica as well as those of S. princeps are recurved only 1/2 or 3/4 of the way up.
  • The leaves of Syntrichia princeps are not as squarrose nor as keeled as those of S. ruralis and S. norvegica.
  • S. princeps is more likely to be found on trees than is S. ruralis.
  • Syntrichia princeps bristles with sporophytes because it is synoicous, with individual plants bearing both male and female parts, increasing the likelihood of fertilization and therefore sporophyte development. In contrast, species in the S. ruralis complex are dioicous, with separate male and female plants, and rarely develop sporophytes.
  • S. norvegica prefers to be under snow part of the year and is only found at high elevations in California.
  • S. papillosissima has insanely high papillae. Papillae act both as channels, directing water across the leaf lamina, and as snorkels, allowing for gas exchange and efficient photosynthesis while the lamina is wet.
  • Brent advised us to look at all of our Syntrichia collections at one time so that we may compare and contrast the key characters. And he closed with: “Evolution does not always leave a nice neat story.”

More on Brent’s Syntrichia research here.

For more on Syntrichia systematics, check out Brent’s recorded talk from a recent symposium at the Jepson Herbarium.

Student Research Grant Scholarship Awarded to Matthew Yamamoto

This past month, the Bryophyte Chapter awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Matthew Yamamoto, M.S. student in Botany at California Botanic Garden, Claremont Graduate University. Matthew is focusing on plant diversity and conservation, and his thesis project will be a floristic inventory of vascular and nonvascular plants of the high elevation McGee Creek watershed in Mono County, California. Matthew writes: “Rugged alpine and subalpine areas of the Sierra Nevada tend to be especially under-documented because they are difficult to access. These same habitats are also particularly vulnerable to global warming, and without floristic documentation of them, we risk losing biodiversity without ever knowing it existed. Moreover, floristic research typically focuses on vascular plants, and data on the diversity and distribution of bryophytes is strikingly lacking both in California and globally.” Hear, hear! We look forward to reading about Matthew’s results in a future issue of Bryolog.

♥ ♥ ♥

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