Table of Contents
What are Bryophytes?
Bryophytes are a small group of plants that are neither vascular nor nonvascular. Vascular plants have xylem and phloem, which are necessary for transporting water and nutrients throughout the plant. Nonvascular plants do not have these tissues and are limited to staying very small. Bryophytes include mosses, liverworts, and hornworts.
Four Major Groups of Bryophytes
There are four major groups of bryophytes: mosses, hornworts, liverworts, and allies.
Mosses are the most common and diverse group of bryophytes, and can be found in most environments. Hornworts are usually aquatic and liverworts are usually terrestrial, but there is a great deal of overlap. Allies are a diverse group that includes both aquatic and terrestrial species.
Mosses are small, spindly plants that typically grow in dense mats on the ground or on rocks. They lack flowers or seeds, and reproduce through spores. Mosses are an important part of the ecosystem, serving as a food source for animals and a habitat for other plants.
Liverworts are small, green plants that can be found growing on the ground, on rocks, or on tree bark. They are very simple plants, and do not have any leaves or roots. Instead, they have a thin, green stalk that they use to hold themselves up, and they use their flattened, green leaves to collect sunlight and food. Liverworts reproduce by making small, green spores that grow into new plants.
- Hornworts are a small group of green, photosynthetic plants that lack true roots, stems, and leaves. They are usually found growing in moist environments, such as in swampy areas or on the banks of rivers and streams. Hornworts are the simplest land plants, and are thought to be some of the oldest plants on Earth.
- Hornworts have a simple body structure that consists of a single cell layer. They have no stems, and their leaves (if they can be called leaves) are small and inconspicuous. The main body of a hornwort is a long, ribbon-like structure called a thallus. The thallus is covered in tiny, hairlike structures called cilia, which are used to move water and food around the plant.
- Hornworts are unique among plants in that they reproduce using spores. Spores are tiny, dust-like particles that are produced by the plant and released into the environment. When they land in a moist place, they germinate and grow into new plants.