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Guide to the Liverworts and Hornworts of Java

Field / Identification GuideIdentification Key

By: S. Robbert Gradstein

146 pages, 28 plates with b/w line drawings, colour map

South-East Asian Regional Center for Tropical Biology

Paperback | Oct 2011 | #197134 | ISBN-13: 9789798275296
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 months Details
NHBS Price: £34.99 $46/€39 approx

About this book

In the present publication, keys are provided for about 430 species of liverworts (in 107 genera and 39 families) and 15 species of hornworts (7 genera, 4 families). Additional species recorded from Java, that are still little known and in need of further study, are briefly mentioned. In addition, introductory chapters on the morphology, ecology and classification of liverworts and hornworts of Java, a list of technical terms, a list of abbreviations, and an index to scientific names are provided. Illustrations are given for selected genera and species.

This work by a prominent specialist in bryology is a welcome addition for persons interested in liverworts and hornworts of Java and adjacent tropical regions. However, the titular Guide" is a bit misleading. What we have here is actually a short introduction followed by a series of keys; descriptions of taxa are lacking. This publication resulted from several training courses offered in tropical bryology at Bogor, Java; thus these keys have been tested in a workshop setting by both amateurs and professionals.


The introductory section of this work covers an overview of the collecting history of Java and lists 164 references that are extremely useful in consolidating the literature on Javanese liverworts and hornworts. Beginners will find much of the section on morphology and ecology invaluable, including the informative table contrasting mosses, liverworts, and hornworts. Selected figures in this section cover habit and branch types of leafy liverworts. Key terms are bolded and referenced by an illustration. A glossary supplements successful use of the keys. Twenty-eight plates of B&W drawings provide some diversity of the taxa, but not every genus has an image. The last page is a color map of Java.

The next short section addresses collecting and preserving liverworts and hornworts. Those who have collected in the tropics have developed different or slightly modified techniques to ensure the highest quality collections. However, the text here offers only a general understanding of how a beginner would actually acquire these skills, which are best learned in a field setting with guidance, hands-on training, and oversight. Learning effective collecting technique and efficient data capture early in a career are perhaps the most important skills a budding bryologist can acquire; it thus is important that this topic be discussed here.


The classification of liverworts and hornworts that follows outlines the classes and families recognized. Gradstein accepts for Java about 480 species of liverworts (in 107 genera and 39 families) and 15 species of hornworts (7 genera, 4 families) but views dubiously some taxa reported by L. Soderstrom, Gradstein & A. Hagborg (Checklist of the hornworts and liverworts of Java. Phylotaxa 9: 53-149, 2010). The keys treat 430 species but not these dubious taxa. Nonetheless, it is likely an unknown liverwort or hornwort specimen from Java or nearby could be identified with this guide, or minimally its genus determined.

The remaining 67 pages of this guide are keys that are organized in several useful ways. [...]First, they are simple with technical terminology kept to a minimum. On occasion a plate figure is referenced in the key to aid in understanding that feature for proper choice of a couplet. In examining these keys I did not find a single couplet with overlapping characters or measurements. Only a few couplets begin with sporophytic characters; most couplets provide a clear choice of gametophytic features. Another remarkable feature is that the keys keep species in the same genus side by side. This technique aids the user to reach at least the correct genus for the unknown being examined.


While there is still much that could have been provided in this work as a Guide to the liverworts and hornworts of Java I nonetheless recommend it without reservation. This work should be of interest to anyone working with tropical bryophytes of Indonesia and surrounding countries."

- S. Robbert Gradstein, Taxon 61(2), April 2012

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