Bryology or Biology?

by Rick ForresterTreeMoss

Normal folks might think this is some type of tree seedling – maybe a baby pine or yew.

However, if you are a bryologist, you know exactly what this plant is.  For those of you not fortunate enough to be married to a bryologist as I am, bryology is the study of some of the smallest plants in nature – mosses and liverworts.   They are ancient, spore producing, non-flowering plants related to ferns.  Because they also lack the vascular tissue that transports water in the “higher” plants, they are small and low-growing, often preferring damp moist habitats.  But because they are so structurally simple, without roots, stems or true leaves, they can utilize many habitats - even rocks and tree branches that other plants cannot take advantage of.  

If you want to dive into the genetics of this, the leafy green plants that we are most familiar with, from dandelions to corn plants to oak trees, are “diploid” entities like us with “paired chromosomes” – this gives us two copies of each of our genes.  Mosses, on the other hand, are haploid organisms, with only one set of chromosomes.

There are literally tens of thousands of species of mosses underfoot – who knew! – with a nearly infinite variety of growth forms.  So next time you are walking down the trail, keep an eye out low to the ground . . .  You may even catch site of this beauty whose common name is Tree Moss (scientifically, Climacium dendroides). 

Now, what’s a “liverwort”?????  Stay tuned . . . .


April 2021

Safe Trails: Trail Courtesy

Trail Yield Sign horse bike walker

by Erick Wikum

When learning to drive a car, we learn “rules of the road.”  When we follow such rules, we know what to expect of others and they know what to expect of us.  With experience, we learn various courteous driving practices.  For example, when two lanes of traffic merge, then “take gap, give gap” facilitates efficient and fair merging.  Pausing to allow another driver to enter a busy roadway (when safe) is another way to extend a courtesy.

The Little Miami Scenic Trail has its own rules of the road and courteous practices. We as trail users are expected to stay to the right, come to a full stop at road crossings and limit our speed to no more than 20 mph.  Courtesies concern how we share the trail with other users; for example, by calling out “on your left” when passing.

Given that the Little Miami Scenic Trail is a shared-use facility, an important question concerns how users engaged in different activities should interact with one another.  While all users engaged in permitted activity are equally welcome to use the trail, safety, practicality and courtesy necessitate a “pecking order” concerning yielding to others in the following ways:

  • Bicyclists should slow and yield to all trail users on foot.  Whether walking, hiking or running, one can easily step in the path of a fast and silently approaching bicycle.
  • Bicyclists and users on foot should yield to horseback riders.  Horses are skittish and unpredictable and can startle when encountering other trail users.  Yielding and knowing how to pass safely are critical.  Click this link for a past Trail Mail safety article with suggestions for sharing the trail with horseback riders.

While shared use has its challenges, it also has a tremendous benefit.  On any given day, you can walk, run, bike or horseback ride on the Little Miami Scenic Trail.  By extending courtesy to others through the yield pecking order described above, not only will you have a safe experience, but so too will others.

April 2021

Safe Trails: Tips to Start 2021 Right

by Erick Wikum

By following these 15 tips for enjoying multi-use trails, you’ll be off to a courteous and safe 2021.


Adapted from San Antonio Parks and Rec

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