• The Cathedral Group from the Teton Park Road

    Grand Teton

    National Park Wyoming

There are park alerts in effect.
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  • Seasonal road closures in effect

    Seasonal road closures are in effect for motorized vehicles. The Teton Park Road is closed from the Taggart Lake Trailhead to the Signal Mountain Lodge. The Moose-Wilson Road is closed from the Granite Canyon Trailhead to the Death Canyon Road. More »

  • Avalanche hazards exist in the park

    Avalanche hazards exist in the park, especially in mountain canyons and on exposed slopes. A daily avalanche forecast can be found at www.jhavalanche.org or by calling (307) 733-2664. More »

  • Bears emerging from hibernation

    Bears are beginning to emerge from hibernation. Travel in groups of three of more, make noise and carry bear spray. Visitors must stay at least 100 yards from bears. More »

Mosses and Liverworts

A vertical rock face at 12,000 feet above sea level . . . the furrowed bark of a three-hundred-year old Engelmann spruce . . . a concrete bridge abutment on the Snake River . . . these are not places one thinks of as habitat for plant life, yet, in all of these, and many other seemingly unlikely locations, mosses and liverworts thrive.

Mosses and liverworts belong to a group of plants known as bryophytes. Bryophytes are believed to be the first green plants to establish themselves on land. Fossil records date bryophytes to at least the Carboniferous Period, 350 million years ago.

Although mosses and liverworts bear some resemblance to vascular plants (plants with nutrient transporting tissues such as roots, stems, and veined leaves) they are actually quite different. Bryophytes have no transporting stems or roots. Instead, they absorb needed nutrients directly through surface tissues. This allows bryophytes to exist without soil. Bryophytes use tissues called rhizoids to attach themselves to surfaces on which to grow. Their chief method of reproduction is quite unlike vascular plants. Rather than being transported by wind or animals, the sperm of bryophytes must swim to the ovaries for fertilization to take place. These plants must have exposure to rainfall or live in a moist environment. This process may be a remnant of their aquatic ancestry. The result of fertilization is the production of spores, which are then dispersed via wind to form new colonies.

Bryophytes serve the ecological community of Grand Teton National Park in a number of ways. They are excellent soil stabilizers. They provide food, moisture, and habitat to many animal species. They also provide the organic material needed for other plant types to colonize previously barren areas. Like lichens, bryophytes are valuable indicators of air and water quality.

Did You Know?

Uinta Ground Squirrel

Did you know that Uinta ground squirrels, sometimes mistaken for prairie dogs, hibernate up to eight months a year? These animals leave their burrows in March or April to inhabit the sagebrush flats, but may return by the end of July.