How did you first learn to identify mosses?

SquiverJune 20, 2013

I'm infinitely interested in bryophytes; in my absence from school, I've been trying to keep my brain alive by digesting any free literature I can on them, mostly in the form of PDF documents.

I understand their life cycle, their general anatomy, what niche they fill in their environments, and what can vary between the species, but identification still alludes me. I haven't really been able to find any resource on the internet that clearly and helpfully just explains the criteria for identification, or the different species, etc.

So, how did any of you moss experts first learn to identify? Was it through a book, did someone teach you, or are you simply better at Google than I?

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lycopus(z5 NY)

I took a college class but I know some people who are largely self taught and learned mostly by networking with other bryologists. A good book is very helpful but the best one to use may depend on your location. Howard Crum's Mosses of the Great Lakes Forest is the one I use most of the time.

The Bryophyte Flora of North America website hosted by the Missouri Botanical Garden can be useful but it is incomplete.

The important things to know are the terms used to describe moss features so you can use keys. Things like acrocarp/pleurocarp, costa, alar cells, whether cells are papillose or not. A microscope is also indispensable for identifying mosses.

If you have not found this one already, I find the following link to be a good introduction to moss identification.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 4:51PM
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Thank you. I have actually seen all of those resources before, but perhaps I haven't looked through them thoroughly enough. I suppose I'm used to vascular plants which can be easily identified with readily available dichotomous keys and species lists.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 4:04AM
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