The landscape on the wet west side of Glacier National Park reflects a pervasive background of green. Wherever there are water and forests, there will almost certainly be mosses--usually hundreds of varieties. Mosses colonize wet rocks and exposed soil, forming mats and thick cushions. They are "gendered" beings, with a complex life cycle that includes male and female gametophytes. These structures combine their eggs and sperm to form a sporophyte. The sporophytes live as parasites on the gametophytes and produce spores from capsules on the stalks. The spores in turn form small spreading protonema which are then fertilized by sperm and form the male and female gametophytes. And the cyclic process begins again.
Liverworts have a life-cycle similar to mosses, but prefer an even wetter environment than mosses. They have much larger "leaves", looking more flattened and spread out. A good place to see liverworts is at the waterline of creeks and on shady rock cliffs.
Last updated: May 22, 2016