Pretty hopeless for me, but here is some information if I get the chance to devote time to them

Grout's text on Mosses - on the older side but apparently still used. I worry that perhaps the taxonomic tree has changed since then.

There is a book "Outstanding Mosses and Liverworts of Pennsylvania and nearby States" By Susan Munch
This looks good because only a hand lens is needed - no microscope.

Common Mosses of the Northeast and Appalachians
By McKnight - also doesn't require a microscope

Posted on January 28, 2022 07:18 PM by aphili8 aphili8


We live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We have a bed of a small moss growing on the west side of our house. We know Chris Stieha, who teaches at the nearby Millersville University. He is a botanist and bryologist, (a moss expert), so I sent him a photo. He wote back:

"Those look nice! I ran through a key, but without knowing the size of the plant and the size of the leaves, I am ball-parking it. It looks like a Mnium species, although could be Timmia. Scott will know, and if he doesn't respond, if you could pull some out and take photos with a scale, I can key it out from those. I would need length and width of a single leaf, and height of the plant."

He also wrote: "Susan Munch's book is nice, but not great for keying.

"We use Common Mosses of the Northeast and Appalachians as our main key. This key is easy to use and feels clear.

"Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts by Pope is also good. Some of the characteristics for keying things are strange and not clear. Also, this book states the meaning behind the scientific name, which is fun! "

Scott Schuette is Botany Program Manager, Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program at Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Here is his iNaturalist profile I like his icon profile - it shows you how to see the maximum detail with a hand lens by using it at very close range.

Julie and I walked on a forest trail at Tannersville Cranberry Bog Preserve and tried to record all the plants we saw. I added 5 moss observations. I see that I have added some other observations in the past too. My vision was corrected to 20/15 after cataract surgery in 2020, so now there is hope for seeing mosses better!

Posted by jrambler about 2 years ago

Mosses and Ferns are not my forte - along with a lot of other taxons. I have Susan Munch's book and often fo out with her mostly through Berks county. I thank you both for the sites and advice.

Happy trails, Link

Posted by linkmdavis about 2 years ago

@jrambler Thanks for the additional references... The mosses seem to be so neglected.. I don't even document them except for a few with fruiting bodies that I thought were nice examples but still haven't been identified beyond family. Of course, I didn't have a hand lens or ruler. I really need to put together an iNat kit for my hikes.

Posted by aphili8 about 2 years ago

@linkmdavis Neither of those are my forte either! I guess I'd like to know the very obvious species of moss if I can... kind of like the way I'm comfortable identifying Christmas Fern but the rest of them - forget about it! Not that they aren't interesting... just that there is a lot to learn and you have to prioritize in some way...

Posted by aphili8 about 2 years ago

@aphili8 and @linkmdavis

Just take photos of mosses as close as you can and post them as "moss".

Or like I did, when I had a photo of some higher plant that had nice moss in it, I cropped it for the moss and posted it as "moss". Do crop it. Otherwise iNaturalist may not show it with all the resolution the photo has. I learned this trick recently.

Posted by jrambler about 2 years ago

I occasionally do, but they pretty much stay at moss (or occasionally get moved into a Family). Seems like to get an ID you have to be able to have some idea of genus yourself, at least.

Posted by aphili8 about 2 years ago

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