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Home > Gardens | CANBR > Plant Information > Plant Groups > Bryophytes > Reference
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The cover of one of the books listed on this page, showing illustrations of several bryophyte species. The illustrations are stylized but recognizable. For example, near the lower left you can see the red antheridial cups of
Polytrichum juniperinum
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Further reading

There are numerous references scattered throughout this website, mostly specific to particular topics. On this page you’ll find various general references, with a brief description of each.

Photographs of Australian bryophytes

These books contain colour photographs of bryophytes found in south-eastern Australia, mostly from non-arid areas. You will also find colour photographs in some of the identification guides listed in the next section.

Jarman, SJ & Fuhrer, BA. (1995), Mosses and liverworts of rainforest in Tasmania and south-eastern Australia. Forestry Tasmania, CSIRO & ABRS. (Numerous excellent colour photographs of wet-forest bryophytes.)

Meagher, D & Fuhrer, B. (2003). A field guide to the mosses & allied plants of southern Australia. ABRS, Canberra & FNCV, Melbourne. (Descriptions, of both macroscopic and microscopic features, and colour photos of many south-east Australian bryophytes.)

Identification guides for Australian bryophytes

For the majority of bryophytes, photographs of the plants aren’t enough if you want to identify a specimen to species. You will need to do some microscope work and make use of an identification key that uses some of the microscopic features. All the references listed in this section contain such identification keys. If you’re not familiar with bryological terms, then Bill & Nancy Malcolm’s book, Mosses and other bryophytes: an illustrated glossary (second edition published in 2006 by Micro-Optics Press, Nelson, NZ) is a very useful book to have. It contains numerous colour photographs illustrating the terms.

Allison, KW & Child, J. (1975). The Liverworts of New Zealand. University of Otago Press, Dunedin. (An identification guide, with many B/W diagrams and, despite the title, useful in Australia.)

Beever, J; Allison, KW & Child, J. (1992). The Mosses of New Zealand (2nd ed.). University of Otago Press, Dunedin. (An identification guide, with many diagrams and colour photos. Though it’s a New Zealand book it is very useful in Australia.)

Buck, WR; Vitt, DH & Malcolm, WM. (2002). Key to the genera of Australian mosses. ABRS, Canberra. (The title says it all. For the serious moss person. There are numerous colour photographs)

Cairns, A. (2007). Introduction to tropical rainforest bryophytes, pp 189-226 in Jackes, B.R. Plants of the Tropics; rainforest to heath: an identification guide, James Cook University, Townsville, 2007 (2nd. ed.) (An identification key, mainly to genera, of tropical rainforest bryophytes. There are also b/w photographs and drawings of bryophyte features as well as a good introductory text giving some essential facts about bryophytes.)

Catcheside, DG. (1980). Mosses of South Australia. South Australian Government, Adelaide. (Technical descriptions and essential for people serious about mosses in the dry areas of Australia.)

Eldridge, DJ & Tozer, ME. (1997). A practical guide to Soil Lichens and Bryophytes of Australia’s Dry Country, Department of Land and Water Conservation, Sydney. (A semi-popular account of the ecology of the species in semi-arid Australia. Many colour photographs and a key to the more common species in the dry areas. The lichens and bryophytes of semi-arid Australia are typically absent from field guides.)

Engel, JJ & Glenny, D. (2008). A Flora of the Liverworts and Hornworts of New Zealand. Volume 1. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis. (A superbly detailed technical work which, despite its title, is very useful in Australia. The book contains detailed descriptions, numerous b/w drawings and 16 pages of colour photos. This is also volume 110 in the series, Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden.)

Glenny, D & Malcolm, B. (2005). Key to Australasian Liverwort & Hornwort Genera. ABRS, Canberra & CBIT, Brisbane. (This CD contains an interactive identification guide to the generic level, using Lucid software, but it can be enjoyed for its illustrations alone.)

McCarthy, PM (ed.) (2006). Flora of Australia, Volume 51 (Mosses 1). ABRS & CSIRO, Canberra. (A technical identification guide – the first of several volumes to be devoted to mosses. At the beginning of the book there is a section which gives a general introduction to mosses and the history of their study in Australia.)

Scott, GAM. (1985). Southern Australian Liverworts. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra. (An identification guide written for people serious about Australian liverworts.)

Scott, GAM.& Stone, IG. (1976). The Mosses of Southern Australia. Academic Press, London. (An identification guide written for people serious about Australian mosses. Numerous B/W drawings of macroscopic and microscopic features.)

Books - Other

Brightman, FH & Nicholson, BE. (1979). The Oxford Book of Flowerless Plants(Corr. Repr.). Oxford University Press, Oxford. (Paintings and brief descriptions of numerous cryptogams.)

Crum, H. (2001). Structural Diversity of Bryophytes. University of Michigan Herbarium, Michigan. (Detailed discussion and numerous diagrams of bryophyte structure.)

Glime, J & Saxena, D. (1991). Uses of bryophytes. Today & Tomorrow’s Printers & Publishers, New Delhi. (A survey of many of the ecological roles of bryophytes and also of the ways in which humans have used them.)

Gradstein, SR; Churchill, SP & Salazar-Allen, N (2001). Guide to Bryophytes of Tropical America. New York Botanical Garden Press, New York. (There are numerous good diagrams in this books of almost 600 pages. It is a technical book, with identification keys down to genus level – and a description of the features of each genus. Most of the genera are also found in the non-American tropics so the book is useful in other tropical areas. This book constitutes Volume 86 of the Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden.)

Hallingbäck, T & Hodgetts, N. (compilers). (2000). Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan for Bryophytes. IUCN/SSC Bryophyte Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. (A world survey of the threats to bryophytes and an account of conservation plans.)

Jewell, AJ. (1964). The Observer's book of mosses and liverworts . Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd, London. (This contains diagrams, brief species descriptions and colour pictures of various British species, some of which occur in Australia. A useful book for getting some exposure to the variety of bryophytes and their structures.)

Malcolm, B & N. (1989). Forest Carpet . Craig Potton, Nelson, NZ. (Numerous excellent colour photographs of and various facts about cryptogam ecology, structure and biology.)

Malcolm, B & N. (2006). Mosses and other bryophytes: an illustrated glossary, second edition. Micro-Optics Press, Nelson, NZ. (A profusely and superbly illustrated glossary of technical bryological terms.)

Parihar , NS . (1965). An introduction to Embryophyta. Volume 1. Bryophyta. Central Book Depot, Allahabad, India. (This book presents diagrams and text about the gametophytes, sporophytes and developmental history of many bryophyte species. It is a gold-mine of information and with copious references to further literature.)

Porley, R. (2008). Arable Bryophytes. Wildguides, Old Basing. (A field guide to bryophytes of cultivated land in Britain and Ireland. Numerous photographs and much information is packed into a handy size. There is enough in this book to interest the keen Australian bryologist.)

Porley, R & Hodgetts, N. (2005). Mosses and Liverworts. Collins, London. (The first few chapters give a good, general introduction to bryophytes. The bulk of the book is devoted to detailed accounts of the bryophytes found in the different habitats of the United Kingdom, so there is much specific detail that is not relevant to Australia. Nevertheless those habitat chapters supply a lot of interesting information about bryophyte behaviour and are well worth reading by anyone who wishes to get a good understanding of bryophytes. )

Richards, P. (1950). A Book of Mosses. Penguin Books, London. (An introductory text and 16 exquisite colour plates, reproduced from a 1787-97 monograph by Johann Hedwig, a pioneering bryologist.)

Richardson, DHS. (1981). The Biology of Mosses. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford. (A little old, but still very useful and pitched to a more general audience than is the Shaw & Goffinet reference given below.)

Schofield, WB. (1985). Introduction to Bryology. Macmillan, New York. (Good introduction to classification, structure, biology and geography.)

Scott, GAM; Entwistle, T; May, T & Stevens N. (1997). A conservation overview of Australian Non-marine Lichens, Bryophytes, Algae and Fungi . Wildlife Australia, Canberra. (The title says it all.)

Shaw, AJ & Goffinet, B. (eds). (2000). Bryophyte Biology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. (Various papers giving authoritative reviews of many aspects of the subject. See also the Richardson reference given above.)

So, ML. (1995). Mosses and Liverworts of Hong Kong. Heavenly People Depot, Hong Kong.(Descriptions and good colour photos of many species. A number of these species may be found in parts of tropical Australia and there are few published photos of tropical Australian bryophytes. Some are also found in temperate Australia. See below for the sequel by Zhu & So.)

Watson, EV. (1971). The Structure and Life of Bryophytes. Hutchinson, London. (An account of bryophyte structure, biology, ecology and geography. Numerous B/W diagrams. Less technical than the Shaw & Goffinet reference given above.)

Zhu, RL & So, ML. (1996). Mosses and Liverworts of Hong Kong. Volume 2. Heavenly People Depot, Hong Kong. (See the earlier comments about the first volume, by So alone.)


A superb website dealing with bryophyte ecology, in a very broad sense of the word.

The Mosscam project. A real-time view of a moss patch

An introduction to the basics of bryophytes.

On this site you’ll find Robert Muma’s world-famous sketches and paintings of mosses.

Numerous photographs of bryophytes.

Ostensibly a catalogue of Malesian mosses, but with photos of each species.

Illustrated explanations of moss and liverwort morphology