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Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
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  • Algae were the first proper plants to evolve.
  • Green algae are the ancestors of all of today's land plants. 
  • They are very simple cellular plants, with no roots, stems or flowers. 
  • While most are found in water bodies, salt and fresh, the notorious blue green algae forming blooms where nutrient loads are high. 
  • Others are found on land where conditions are moist. 
  • Small forms grow as parasites below the `skin' (the cuticle) of rainforest leaves.


  • Represent an evolutionary step up from algae. 
  • They have no roots and no system of woody vessels which allow more advanced plants to grow tall. 
  • As the first land plants, mosses probably created the first forests, mini-ecosystems just 5cm or so high. 
  • They achieve this impressive height simply by packing themselves tightly together.
  • The sex life of mosses resembles the complicated system of alternate generations found in algae. 
  • Mosses keep the next generation at home, whereas algal male and female cells meet by swimming freely through the water.
  • O-moss cells are attached firmly to the parent plant. 
  • When they have been fertilised by free-swimming male cells they grow into spore-filled capsules on the end of long stalks. 
  • These capsules eventually open to release the spores which are blown away to grow into new moss plants.
  •  In some respects, this tendency to retain the female egg on the parent plant resembles the habit of later plants, such as cycads, conifers and flowering plants, to do the same. 
  • Perhaps it represents a step along the evolutionary way.

Additional Mosses Information


  • Liverworts are very similar to mosses. 
  • However, where the pointed `leaves' of mosses are arranged in spirals on the stems, liverworts have rounded (liver-shaped) `leaves' which grow flat in double rows.

Courtesy of: Environmental Protection Agency, Cairns.

Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges
Lake Eacham, Atherton Tablelands
Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
PH & Fax: 07 4095 3754 International: 61 7 4095 3754

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