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Yet another irritation to many gardeners seeking a flawless lawn. But to those of us who prefer a rich environment even within our lawns, these add a great dimension. Best seen on rocks or old trees, these plants form micro-environments in the true sense. 

Nature Scotland has this perspective : 

Mosses and liverworts are tiny plants that produce spores instead of flowers and seeds. Mosses and liverworts do differ, but they share enough important characteristics to be known collectively as bryophytes.

Around since before the dinosaurs, mosses and liverworts find the ideal conditions in Scotland, with its diverse landscape and cooler climate. Despite their small size, our 977 moss and liverwort species play a hugely important role in the health of our environment and how it functions.

Britannica tells us Liverworts and mosses form a group of plants botanists call the bryophytes. Bryophytes are examples of the earliest and simplest land plants, confined to damp habitats due to their lack of a protective outer cuticle and their possession of delicate, free-swimming gametes.

The main body of a liverwort, like this conocephalum, consists of a flat plate of cells called a thallus. The thallus is anchored to its substrate by rhizoids. These rhizoids are not true roots and consists only of elongated single cells. Absorption of water and minerals occurs over the whole surface of the plant, including the rhizoids.

The liverwort can reproduce asexually by means of gemmae produced in structures called gemmae cups or sexually via the union of free-swimming sperm with eggs found in a special group of cells called the archegonia.

Mosses exhibit some differentiation into simple leaves and stems, but there is no true vascular system to distribute water and minerals over the whole area of the plant. The rhizoids of mosses are multicellular but serve primarily as anchors.

Kate Lewthwaite writing for the Woodland Trust enthuses over mosses. Mosses are distinctive from flowering plants because they produce spores. They have stems and leaves but not true roots. They are reliant on damp conditions for reproduction because the male cells need to move via a film of water to reach the female cells for fertilisation. Sometimes this is within one plant but can also require them to reach another plant, depending on the species.

There are around 1,000 bryophyte species (the term that includes both mosses and liverworts) in the UK.

The Woodland Trust website (see link below) is a good source for idntifying some of the more common types of moss.


Two mosses on a stone wall near the upper Leven.

WILDLIFE TRUSTS : https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/mosses-and-liverworts

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