Early Land Plants

What are Early Land Plants?

What is an early land plant? Early land plants, also called bryophytes, are mosses, hornworts, and liverworts. These three plants are different, but have many things in common that classify them all as bryophytes. They are the second largest group of land plants after flowering plants. Often unnoticed, these plants play an important role in understanding the past, present, and future of our planet. 

Discover the microscopic world of liverworts, hornworts, and mosses with the help of Matt VonKonrat, Head of Botanical Collections, Adjunct Curator & Collections Manager at the Field Museum.

Bryophytes are important components of the vegetation in many regions of the world, making up a major part of the biodiversity in moist forest, wetland, mountain and tundra ecosystems throughout the world. Bryophytes are important to ecosystems because they help with erosion prevention, plant growth over time, decomposition, and produce carbon and nitrogen. This group of organisms also have interesting biological properties such as anti-microbial, anti-fungal, insect anti-feedant (animals can't eat them), and muscle relaxing activity.