10 characteristics of bryophytes

Bryophytes are small, non-vascular land plants that require water for reproduction. Land plants fall into two categories: those with special tissues to transport water and other materials, called vascular plants; and those that do not have specialized tissues, called non-vascular plants. Bryophytes are not vascular, so they do not have the proper types of tissues to develop roots, stems, or leaves.

There are three main types of bryophytes: mosses, liverworts and hornworts. Some scientists now only consider mosses to be bryophytes, but we'll discuss all three in this lesson. Now let's explore their defining characteristics and specialized reproductive cycle, as well as take a closer look at some examples of bryophytes.

bryophytes characteristics bryophytes

Characteristics of the Bryophytes

  1. Bryophytes are usually one to two centimeters tall.
  2. They lack tissues to provide the structure and support that other land plants have, so they cannot grow any larger.
  3. Bryophytes are non-vascular land plants. Although they exhibit specialized structures for water transport, they lack vascular tissue.
  4. They grow together forming a mat on soil, rocks, tree trunks, and leaves.
  5. Bryophytes primarily grow in humid environments, but can be found in diverse habitats ranging from deserts, arctic, and high elevations. Since bryophytes do not rely on root structures for nutrient uptake like vascular plants, they can survive in environments that vascular plants cannot (for example, on rock surfaces).

  6. Although they require water for hydration and reproduction, they can survive on land thanks to special adaptations.
  7. Bryophytes are covered by a waxy cuticle that helps them retain water. As water flows through an area, it is absorbed by bryophytes.
  8. Bryophytes cling to water like a sponge, helping water-dependent creatures to survive and reducing flooding in an area.
  9. All bryophytes have a dominant gametophyte stage in their life cycle. During this stage, the plant is haploid and the sexual organs that produce gametes develop. Bryophytes are unique compared to many other plant species in that they remain in this stage for long periods. The sporophytes (the diploid form of the plant) of bryophytes are unbranched, producing a single spore-producing capsule (sporangium). Furthermore, the sporophytes depend on the gametophyte for nutrition and develop within the female sexual organ (archegonia).
  10. Most gametophytes are green, and all except the liverwort gametophyte. Cryptothallus has chlorophyll. Many have other pigments, especially in the cellulosic cell walls, but sometimes within the cytoplasm of the cells.

Examples of bryophytes and classification

The three main types of bryophytes are liverworts, mosses, and hornworts, each comprising several hundred different species.


Liverworts (shown below) are extremely small plants characterized by flattened stems and undifferentiated leaves, as well as unicellular rhizoids. Liverworts can be distinguished from other bryophyte species by the presence of membrane-bound oil bodies within their cells, compared to other species that do not contain closed lipid bodies.


Mosses (shown below) are green, lumpy plants often found in moist environments, out of direct sunlight. Mosses are characterized by leaves that are only one cell wide attached to a stem that is used for the transport of water and nutrients. Mosses are capable of absorbing a substantial amount of water and have historically been used for insulation, water absorption, and a source of peat.


Hornworts (shown below) are named for the characteristic long-horned sporophyte that develops. In contrast, the gametophyte form is a flat, green-bodied plant. Most wasps are found in moist environments (for example, tropical climates), garden soil, or tree bark.

📂 Citar artículo
ENCICLOPEDIA DE CARACTERÍSTICAS (2023) 10 characteristics of bryophytes, en 10caracteristicas.com. https://10caracteristicas.com/en/10-characteristics-of-bryophytes/ (Consultado el: 25-09-2023)

🌐 Enlazar artículo

📌 Enlace corto a esta página:

📑 Impresión del artículo
Imprimir publicación

¿Quieres leer más artículos similares a: 10 characteristics of bryophytes (Actualizado 2023)? Puedes visitar la categoría Biology para ver más contenido relacionado.

Go up