Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Weird Wednesday: Revive a Bryophyte for Science!

Bryophytes are pretty weird little plants. Mosses and liverworts have been around for over 400 million years. They are at the opposite end of the evolutionary timeline as Tillandsias; Tillies may be the newest kids on the plant block.

So these "old timer" bryophytes frequently get buried by glaciers during ice ages. And they can sit patiently under the ice for a really long time....

A number of unfortunate bryophytes have been stuck under the ice for half a millennium, since the Little Ice Age! But as glaciers everywhere retreat with global warming, these plants are actually reviving. Here's the link:

Dr. La Farge is the curator of the very cool-sounding Cryptogamic Herbarium; do you think she imagined her career when she was just a kid? I doubt it. But she and her team of scientists are growing these long-dormant plants, and glaciers are looking more like long-term depositories of many plant species; Mother Nature turns out to be an efficient archivist!

A random bryophyte.


  1. That is so cool (no pun intended)! Who knows what's buried under glaciers?

  2. I know, makes me a little nervous, actually!

  3. Hi Marla,
    This IS very cool but it also gives me the creeps! Do you remember the movie "Smilla's Sense of Snow" with Julia Ormand? Who knows what might be lurking under the ice or swimming in the snowmelt.
    Beautiful photo!

  4. Uh, oh! I'm not sure I want to know what's lurking under the ice either! Poor Otzi the Iceman did not revive, though, when his glacier melted in the Alps....

  5. Very clever & cute natural bonsai plants. :)

  6. They are adorable little plants, aren't they? Tough, too!