Thursday, October 9, 2008

Neighborhood Nature: Backyard Bryophytes in October

Introduction: The "Neighborhood Nature" segment of my blog is meant to reveal nature in our own neighborhoods and backyards. The natural areas near our homes may not always be pristine, but they often abound with fascinating plants, animals and natural phenomenon.

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.

Brachythecium spp.

Bryoandersonia illecebra

Hydrohypnum spp.

Pottia spp. (?)

Thuidium spp.

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.

No comments: