Field of Science

My Bryology Bookshelf - III

Mosses With A Hand Lens by A. J. Grout 
Third Edition - 1924
A Popular Guide to the Common or Conspicuous Mosses and Liverworts of the North-Eastern United States

In my search for a field guide to the mosses of New England, I came across this book at my university library. I then purchased my own copy to add to my reference shelf. You can check out the entire book here online at GoogleBooks.

Some great aspects of this book are that it is meant to be used with a hand lens. Other books require either a dissecting or compound microscope. The initial dichotomous key is a manageable length with 25 couplets. Then it spits into Acrocarpous and Pleurocarpous mosses that then have a 36 and 14 couplet key respectively. The line drawings are really well done and are quite informative for species identification. The photographs are ok, especially considering they are from 1924, but are pretty grainy and black & white. The diagrams for the liverworts are typically much smaller and with less detail. This may show a bias of the author toward the mosses.

Since the book is quite old some of the names of the genera are out of date. But it is interesting historically to see how the scientific names have changed from then to now.
Catharinea is now Atrichum
Webera is now Diphyscium
Georgia is now Tetraphis

Another interesting finding in this book is that hornworts are described as a specific type of liverwort. They are classified in the family Anthocerotaceae, The Horned Liverworts. Currently the hornworts are classified as a distinct lineage separate from the liverworts. Thus there are three main groups of Bryophytes; Mosses, Liverworts and Hornworts. I am not sure when hornworts were moved to their own lineage. Sometime between 1924 and now? This is a question for my lab-mate Juan Carlos. I will let you know what he says when I see him tomorrow.   

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