• Ryan Clark

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…

  1. There is a lot of them!

  2. They are hard, but some are not impossible 😉

  3. Safety first. Don’t fall into a fen

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

  1. 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

  1. It is easy to become obsessed and only talk about mosses and liverworts (sorry Charlotte!)

  2. There are lots of people out there on Twitter that are willing to help! Special thanks to @NimbosaEcology @SphagnumPI @sambbryo and @BBSbryology

  3. 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!

  4. Appreciate the smaller things in life, again I knew this but a chance to include more photos

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

  1. Slowly does it. I am trying to improve a little bit each time I go out. Would overwhelm myself if I collected too much

  2. My confidence can grow in tricky groups

  3. It is really therapeutic

  4. 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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