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U.S. Forest Service


Diversity of Mosses in California Fens

Since fens are a type of wetland, they support many species of mosses. In California, approximately 80 common and rare species of mosses and liverworts are known to occur in fens. The diversity of the mosses and liverworts in California fens are comparable to other Northern Hemisphere peatland complexes in central Sweden and northern Ontario (Wishner, 2011).

California has one of the most species rich moss floras in North America (Malcolm, et al, 2009). Mosses and liverworts began to be examined more widely in these ecosystems when fens were highlighted in the 2001 Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment that required inventories of fens and bogs.

Special issues of Madroño (a journal published by the California Botanical Society) have been published regarding mosses and liverworts in California:

  1. Contributions toward a Bryoflora of California: I. A Specimen-based Catalogue of Mosses. Daniel H. Norris and James R. Shevock. Madroño 51(1): 1-131. 2004.
  2. Contributions toward a Bryoflora of California: II. A Key to the Mosses. Daniel H. Norris and James R. Shevock. Madroño 51(2): 133-269. 2004.
  3. Contributions toward a Bryoflora of California: III. Keys and Annotated Species Catalogue for Liverworts and Hornworts. William T. Doyle and Raymond E. Stotler. Madroño 53(2): 89-197. 2006.
  4. Contributions toward a Bryoflora of California: IV. A Moss Flora of Lake County, A Checklist of the Bryophytes of the Channel Islands, and A Catalogue of the Mosses of the Plumas National Forest. David R. Toren, Ben Carter and Colin Dillingham. Madroño 62(4). 2015.

In 2009, Bill and Nancy Malcolm, Jim Shevock, and Dan Norris published California Mosses. This guide to the California mosses is organized by leaf shape and diagnostic tracts so species are identified by pictures. In 2013, this became available as California Moss eFlora edited by Paul Wilson (see California Moss eFlora online).

Photo Gallery

Enjoy the diversity of mosses in the fens in the mountains of California in this photo gallery.

  • Aulacomnium palustre

    Aulacomnium palustre, Clark Creek Fen, Roseburg Lumber Company. Photo by Martin Lenz.

  • Aulacomnium palustre

    Aulacomnium palustre, Lyell Fork, Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Bruchia bolanderi

    Bruchia bolanderi, High Bench Fen, Plumas National Forest. Photo by Lawrence Janeway.

  • Bruchia bolanderi

    Bruchia bolanderi, High Bench Fen, Plumas National Forest. Photo by Tim Hanson.

  • Calypogeia muelleriana

    Calypogeia muelleriana, Sierra Buttes Fen, Tahoe National Forest. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Cephalozia pleniceps

    Cephalozia pleniceps, Sierra Buttes Fen, Tahoe National Forest. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Cephalozia pleniceps

    Cephalozia pleniceps, Sierra Buttes Fen, Tahoe National Forest. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Chiloscyphus polyanthos

    Chiloscyphus polyanthos, Sierra Butte Fen, Tahoe National Forest. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Helodium blandowii

    Helodium blandowii, Grass Lake, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. Photo by Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit staff.

  • Helodium blandowii

    Helodium blandowii Shovel Creek Meadows, Klamath National Forest. Photo by Martin Lenz.

  • Helodium blandowii

    Helodium blandowii, Shovel Creek Meadows, Klamath National Forest. Photo by Martin Lenz.

  • Marchantia polymorpha

    Marchantia polymorpha, Lyell Fork, Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Marchantia polymorpha

    Marchantia polymorpha, Lyell Fork, Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Meesia triquetra

    Meesia triquetra, Hart Family Preserve, Nevada County. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Meesia triquetra

    Meesia triquetra, Sagehen Creek, Tahoe National Forest. Photo by Craig Odegard.

  • Meesia triquetra

    Meesia triquetra, Plumas National Forest. Photo by Catie and Jim Bishop.

  • Meesia triquetra

    Meesia triquetra, Grass Lake, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Meesia uliginosa

    Meesia uliginosa, Shovel Creek Meadows, Klamath National Forest. Photo by Martin Lenz.

  • Meesia uliginosa

    Meesia uliginosa stalks, Sagehen Creek, Tahoe National Forest. Photo by Craig Odegard.

  • Meesia uliginosa

    Meesia uliginosa setae, Carter Meadow, Lassen National Forest. Photo by Tim Kellison.

  • Meesia uliginosa

    Meesia uliginosa, Angora Fen, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Meesia uliginosa

    Meesia uliginosa, Kiln Fen, Sagehen Creek, Tahoe National Forest. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Meesia uliginosa

    Meesia uliginosa, Kiln Fen, Sagehen Creek, Tahoe National Forest. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Meesia uliginosa

    Meesia uliginosa. Photo by Martin Lenz.

  • Philonotis fontana pusilla

    Philonotis fontana pusilla, Hart Family Preserve, Nevada County. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Philonotis fontana pusilla

    Philonotis fontana pusilla, Sierra Butte Fen, Tahoe National Forest. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Philonotis fontana pusilla

    Philonotis fontana pusilla, Murphy Flat Fen, Tahoe National Forest. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Ptychostomum pacificum

    Ptychostomum pacificum, Pat Yore Flat Fen, Tahoe National Forest. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Ptychostomum pacificum

    Ptychostomum pacificum, Sierra Butte Fen, Tahoe National Forest. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Ptychostomum pseudotriquetrum

    Ptychostomum pseudotriquetrum, Surprise Fen, Plumas National Forest. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Riccardia multifida

    Riccardia multifida, whole mount, Sierra Butte Fen, Tahoe National Forest. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Riccardia multifida

    Riccardia multifida with sporphyte, Sierra Butte Fen, Tahoe National Forest. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Sanionia uncinata

    Sanionia uncinata, Osgood Swamp, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Sphagnum spp.

    Sphagnum spp., Pat Yore Flat Fen, Tahoe National Forest. Photo by Carl Wishner.

  • Sphagnum spp.

    Sphagnum spp., Plumas National Forest. Photo by Catie and Jim Bishop.