Lessons From Learning Bryophytes

As readers of this blog will probably know, I have been saying for literally years now that I want to get more to grips with bryophytes and that that year will be the year.Well 2018 has been the year that I have made real progress! As a lover of insects and vascular plants, walking outside in the winter can sometimes be disheartening for me. But then I discovered bryophytes (mosses and liverworts), plants that are not only more visible in autumn and winter, but grow best in these times too! So far I have recorded 78 species of bryophyte in 2018. Along with going through most of my backlog of specimens (leaving the sphagnums alone!), I have now brought my total to 97 species recorded in Britain. I wonder what my 100th species will be? This is likely to be seen with my partner, Charlotte, next weekend in Cornwall, which we be rather special.

I thought I would share some of the lessons I have learnt from bryophytes so far, in no particular order…

  • There is a lot of them!
  • They are hard, but some are not impossible 😉
  • Safety first. Don’t fall into a fen


  • They are beautiful and diverse ( I knew this anyway but just wanted to include more pictures 🙂


  • Looking at bryophytes has made me a better naturalist, I now look at microhabitats more, looking for wet areas, differences in acidity etc. This will help me more generally with recording wildlife


  • It is easy to become obsessed and only talk about mosses and liverworts (sorry Charlotte!)
  • There are lots of people out there on Twitter that are willing to help! Special thanks to @NimbosaEcology @SphagnumPI @sambbryo and @BBSbryology
  • I can use my job to learn more! I organised a bryophyte course and tagged along, and am going to a liverwort course for free in a few weeks too!
  • Appreciate the smaller things in life, again I knew this but a chance to include more photos


  • Going out with others really helps. I learnt a lot from a walk with Peter Creed, seeing how he looks for bryophytes


  • Slowly does it. I am trying to improve a little bit each time I go out. Would overwhelm myself if I collected too much
  • My confidence can grow in tricky groups
  • It is really therapeutic
  • It is fun!!

It will soon be spring and I will move back to focusing on insects and vascular plants, oh how I have missed you bees!

Thanks for reading,


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