Intermediate Bryology

Topics to keep you going

Photo: David Wagner

California Moss eFlora

The California Moss eFlora is an ambitious project to have a living growing virtual document full of all the identification tools one could wish for. It’s functional now, but we hope that Bryophyte Chapter activities will bring it along. Use it. Love it. Improve it.

Based on
Contributions Toward a Bryoflora of California: I,II. A key to the Mosses, and A Specimen-based Catalogue of Mosses by Norris and Shevock. (2004). $15 each. Originally published in Madroño and now available through the California Botanical Society. The keys are designed to include plants with similar morphological characters, even if they cross generic or familial lines. Even though California was the central focus, the keys include plants found in Washington and Oregon, but have not yet been collected from CA. Neither the keys nor the catalogue is illustrated, but the catalog lists other references that have illustrations for all taxa.


California Liverwort Flora

Contributions Toward a Bryoflora of California: III. Keys and Annotated Species Catalogue for Liverworts and Hornworts by Bill Doyle and Ray Stotler. (2006) $15. Originally published in Madroño and now available through the California Botanical Society. Bill’s extremely careful work makes this an indispensable work. Not illustrated, but the text lists the works where illustrations are found. California county lists of liverworts and hornworts, by Doyle and Kellman, a county by county list of species of liverworts and hornworts with voucher specimens, and the species list with county records.


Survey Guidelines

Jason Brooks has written Survey Guidelines for Bryophytes and Lichens (2023) to be used as a companion to the CNPS Botanical Survey Guidelines.


Reference Books

A bryological reference library for is another major financial commitment. Most of these texts will only be found in major university libraries, and they are expensive, especially those published in Europe. Here are listed the most valuable references to the amateur California bryologist:

Moss Floras

California Mosses by Bill and Nancy Malcom, Jim Shevock and Dan Norris. (2009). $68. Brand new, with the unmistakable Malcom style photographs. While there are leaf outlines for virtually all of the approximately 600 species of mosses in California, 291 of them (representing all CA genera) receive closer treatment. It has the feel of a field guide, but most of the photos are through a microscope, reflecting the sad truth that microscopes are indispensable for any study of bryophytes.

• Flora of North America, Vols. 27 & 28, $95 each. These volumes cover mosses, with the liverworts and hornworts to follow. You simply have to have these books. In print and available at any bookstore. Or use online at the FNA website.

• Moss Flora of the Pacific Northwest by Elva Lawton (1971). $47. This book is invaluable for the northern western states, including northern California. Available from the Hattori Botanical Laboratory.

• The Moss Flora of Mexico, edited by Sharp, Crum, Eckel (1994), 2 volumes. $50 per volume. Excellent drawings, and good keys, with treatments written by worldwide experts. These two books are very helpful in the southern western states.

Liverwort and Hornwort Floras

Guide to the Liverworts of Oregon [includes all species found in California] by David Wagner. He sells it at cost on a flash drive HERE.

Hornworts of Oregon by David Wagner with excellent photos. Use free online at his website,

• The Liverwort Flora of the British Isles by Jean Paton (1999). $166. A fantastic book, with superlative drawings. A very high percentage of the plants treated in Doyle and Stotler are treated and illustrated here.

• The Hepaticae and Anthocerotes of California by Marshall Avery Howe (1899). PDF of figures.

Bryophyte Biology Texts

• Mosses and other Bryophytes, an Illustrated Glossary by Bill and Nancy Malcom. (2nd edition released in 2006). $68. Marvelous photographs illustrate almost every term you can find in keys, floras, and papers. The second edition includes many terms omitted in the first volume which can be found on used book auctions for outrageous prices. Very highly recommended. Out of print, but try used bookstores.

• Introduction to Bryology by W.B. Schofield. (1985) $60, but can be found discounted. This is the classic introductory text, and although the science has grown since 1985, it is still a valuable work.

• Bryophyte Biology edited by B. Goffinet and J. Shaw. (2008) $63. This second edition again updates the science, including the editor’s views on the latest taxonomies of all the bryophyte groups. Chapters on genetic and chemical studies, morphologies of all bryophytes, bryophyte ecology, and bryophyte roles in global warming, condense the present state of these quickly advancing sciences. Targeted toward more advanced students.