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NZ Plants


Mosses: phylum Bryophyta

Mosses today


There are more than 10,000 described species of mosses worldwide. 

New Zealand has around 500 species and 108 of these are endemic (found nowhere else). 

There are three major groups, the Bryales, Polytrichales and the primitive mosses.

Recognising a moss:

  • Almost all mosses have a stem bearing tiny leaves which are usually of a similar size and form
  • Moss leaves usually have a characteristic midrib (nerve)
  • Mosses are attached to the substrate with many-celled filaments (rhizoids)
  • Stomata are present in sporophytes of some species
  • the sporangium is in a large capsule most always at the end of a wiry stalk (seta)
  • The capsule opens by a removable lid usually surrounded by a circle of fine teeth (peristome) or by means of pores. 


Early mosses