Field of Science

Mosses Featured at United States National Parks

I did a search recently because I was interested to see how many of our National Parks discuss or feature the mosses that live in the parks. Here are a few of the interesting pages that I found and my comments on them. (They are not arranged in any particular order.)

Mt Ranier National Park - Washington
In 1939 Dr. E. T. Bodenberg wrote a moss flora about this park. It has a really thorough introduction that covers everything from the moss life cycle to how particular features of the park affect the mosses growing there. A checklist of the mosses in the park and a key to their identification is also included. Also interesting to note is that samples of all of the species included in this flora have been collected and placed in the park's herbarium. A herbarium is a collection of dried plant samples associated with location information that acts as a natural history record of the plants from a particular area.

Denali National Park and Preserve - Alaska
This park has a very animated and detailed section about the mosses. They also include an informative list of reasons for bryophytes being so broadly distributed across the globe.

Arches National Park - Utah
This park has a really great page discussing desert mosses and their ability to survive long dry periods (aka. desiccation).

Cape Krusenstern National Monuemant - Alaska
Sphagnum sp. (peat moss) is mentioned as a major player in the tundra habitat that is dominant at this location.

Canyonlands National Park - Utah
This site pretty much reuses the same information and photo as those at Arches National Park. I think that it is all still applicable since the habitat in the two locations is probably very similar. However more bryophyte details specific to the park would have been appreciated.

Grand Teton National Park - Wyoming
This park has a really great page that highlights the mosses and liverworts and the role that they play in this park.

Shenandoah National Park - Virginia

This park quotes the number of bryophytes that they have growing at the park = 208 species of moss and 58 species of liverwort. They also list some references and website links for more bryophyte information. The websites look to have good information and are associated with major universities. I think that their liverwort book selection is good, while their moss recommendation is a 2 volume set that costs ~$300. I would recommend a library if you are interested in checking out this thorough work on mosses.
(Pet Peeve: Below the photo it describes the mosses as 'fruiting'. That term is commonly used but biologically incorrect. Bryophytes do not form flowers, seeds or fruits! But fruiting is an easier term to use than sporing, which is not a technical or even real term. It could just be said that they are reproducing.)

ParkWise - Educational Resources for Alaskan National Parks
Mosses are included as part of this exercise about successional plants.

Redwood National & State Parks - California

Bandelier National Monument - New Mexico
Both of these parks mention moss being used by birds as nesting material.

National Battlefield Park - Virginia
This park has a page with a nice photo that features the mosses and liverworts.

I hope that you enjoy these webpages about mosses and liverworts living at our National parks, preserves, and monuments. If you have any stories about the bryophytes at your local parks feel free to share them in the comments section.


  1. Good job, Shenandoah, for not leaving out the mosses. I often take pictures of mosses when I'm there. I always think of you, Jess!!

  2. Thanks! I thought of you too when I saw that the Shenandoah National Park had a good piece on their mosses. I hope that all is well with you and the family. Keep up the great blogging!

  3. Denali National Park; Alaska is six million acre park with really exotic birds & mammals to be explored. From black & grizzly bears, wolves, dall sheep, moose & caribou to beautiful variety of Alaskan birds like Raven, great horned owls, ptarmigan, waxwings, Arctic Warblers, pine grosbeaks, and wheatears & tundra swan. It’s heaven for nature lovers, bird watchers & animal lovers.

  4. Great addition to your blog. Will have to explore those sites!

    Jerry Copeland

  5. AWESOME! great blog keep up the great work!


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