Moss Madness Coming to Chapel Hill

by Carol Ann McCormick, Herbarium Curator

While Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill may experience… ahem… friendly competition during March Madness on basketball courts, the staff of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, the North Carolina Botanical Garden, the Duke University Herbarium and the UNC-Chapel Hill Herbarium enjoy warm and collegial relationships year round. One area of recent cooperation has been centered around bryophytes, and I’ve come to think of this sudden surge in interest about mosses, liverworts, and hornworts as Moss Madness.

Jame Amoroso, conservation information specialist with the NC Natural Heritage Program, formed the NC Bryophyte Diversity Project in the autumn of 2016. Our first meeting was a tour of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Herbarium in October of that year. We explored the modest (ca. 3,000 specimens) collection of mosses, liverworts, and hornworts housed in cases on the third floor of Coker Hall, and discussed future activities of the Project. In January 2017, Sarah P. Duke Gardens hosted Annie Martin (a.k.a. Mossin’ Annie) and a huge crowd filled the Doris Duke Center to learn about landscaping with mosses. The Duke Herbarium hosted the second meeting of the NC Bryophyte Diversity Project on February 25, and Dr. Blanka Shaw told us about their huge (ca. 230,000 specimens) collection of bryophytes.

In March, the ball will be back in Chapel Hill’s court and NCBG will continue Moss Madness with a class on Moss Identification & Natural History on Saturdays in March and April. This class is for beginners, and it will be taught by Arielle Garrett who earned her M.S. degree in Bryology at Duke and now works in the UNC-Chapel Hill Herbarium.

If you are interested in the NC Bryophyte Diversity Project, simply send an email to You can explore the bryological collections 80 herbaria across North America, including those at UNC and Duke, at