Backyard Bryophytes: Bryophytes, tiny non-vascular and non-flowering plants that first adapted to terrestrial environments about 500 million years ago, often go ignored as we tramp through our yards. These plants, consisting of mosses, liverworts and the elusive hornworts are surprisingly diverse (over 23,000 species have been described worldwide). In my own backyard, I was able to find and identify at least five different bryophyte species.
Need more information? Bryophyte identification can be very challenging. If you're really interested in learning more about these fascinating plants, sign up for the bryophyte class offered at the North Carolina Botanic Garden in Chapel Hill.
You can also pick up Crum and Anderson's 2 volume Mosses of Eastern North America (1981) and Marie L. Hicks's Guide to Liverworts of North Carolina, both of which are excellent references.