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What are bryophytes (苔蘚植物)?

Bryophytes, comprising mosses (蘚類), liverworts (苔類) and hornworts (角苔類), are a group of small, green land plants characterized by (a) the absence of vascular tissues and by (b) the unique life history having a dominant gametophyte generation (配子體世代), which produces the sex organs (antheridia and archegonia) and gametes (sperms and eggs). The sporophytes (孢子體), which produce spores, cannot live alone and is essentially dependent on the gametophyte for water and nutrients.

Bryophytes are the second largest group of land plants, followed angiosperms, with about 15,000 species worldwide. They can be found in most terrestrial and some fresh water habitats except marine environment. They are usually a few millimeters to several centimeters in height, rendering them inconspicuous and easily overlooked. They are normally associated with moist and shaded environment, but a few species can tolerate a wide range of harsh environments, e.g. alpine regions, deserts, and the Antarctic.

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