Mosses & Liverworts for Birdwatchers


Saturday, March 31, 2012 - 1:00pm to Sunday, April 1, 2012 - 12:45pm




Cornell Lab of Ornithology; meet at Cornell Cooperative Extension to carpool@42.450513,-76.503510


Norm Trigoboff


Mosses and Liverworts - An easy walk along even terrain, at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on Sapsucker Rd, Ithaca. May be slow going at times, so dress accordingly. Bring a 10x hand lens. Meet at 1 pm at the CCE parking lot (615 Willow Ave., Ithaca--click on map link above) to carpool.


Bill owns land within the Fall Creek drainage, on Neimi Road , that he has legally defined as a privately owned nature preserve.  Most of it is second growth forest that has been undisturbed for many years.  There is a cleared trail that is mowed in the summertime, so it is easy to walk around. The trail also passes beneath power lines, in an area that is like a meadow.  A tributary of Fall Creek cuts across the property and there are beaver ponds nearby.Bill is a retired professor of ethology, which he explained is the study of animal behavior.  He was happy to lead us on the walk, with Norm doing the teaching.  There was snow on the ground on Saturday, but it wasn't very deep, and there were some bare places.  We saw some wild turkeys, and also saw their tracks in the snow.  We were able to see mosses on the ground, logs, rocks, and tree branches.  At one point, we left the path and walked to the edge of a beaver pond, where we saw some large aspens that beavers had felled to get the leaves and young branches for food.  The beaver lodge was visible way out in the frozen pond.  Near the shore, we found a relatively large moss that Norm called "shaggy moss".  It was large enough that someone in the group thought it looked like a club moss.  Its scientific name is:Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus.  Now that is fun to say!  Its leaves spread out in all directions.Before we set off on our walk, Norm presented some background material:  Plants that grow on land are in two groups: bryophtes, lacking vascular tissue, and trachyophytes, with vascular tissue. Bryophtyes include: mosses, liverworts, and hornworts. Mosses are leafy and reproduce sexually with spores from a capsule held on a seta (a stalk) or asexually from clonal propagules that break off the parent plant.Liverworts are flatter, and some have a thallus or ribbon-shaped body of undifferentiated tissue. They also reproduce both sexually and asexually. Mosses are divided into 2 main groups:Acrocarpous - stand upright (stems grow upward)Pleurocarpous - lie down (stems grow horizontally, on or near surface of substrate).Below is a list of the mosses and liverworts observed on our walk and identified for us by Norm.Mosses

  1. Ceratodon purpureus (acrocarp)
  2. Brachythecium sp. (pleurocarp)
  3. Atrichum sp. (acrocarp)
  4. Platygyrium repens - common, can reproduce by fragmentation from tips of branches
  5. Hypnum pallescens (small pleurocarp) - no midrib, on spruce tree bark
  6. Leskea polycarpa - dull, because of microscopic bumps called papillae
  7. Hypnum lindbergii
  8. Hypnum imponens
  9. Ulota crispa - leaves crisped, little clump
  10. Orthotrichum sp. - little clump
  11. Thuidium delicatulum - fern moss
  12. Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus - shaggy moss
  13. Climacium sp. - tree moss


  1. Frullania eboracensis - on a tree trunk
  2. Radula complanata - on a tree trunk, with gemmae at leaf margins

[Gemmae (gemma, singular) are asexual propagules that are produced by some liverworts, mosses, fungi, etc.  They are capable of developing into new individuals.  Some gemmae resemble little 'bird nests' (cup shaped) with tiny 'eggs' in them).