This article is a synopsis of a manuscript, The bryophytes of Crane Hollow Preserve and Hocking County. Evansia 37(4): 104 – 124, written by Barbara K. Andreas and Joe Moosbrugger. For more information, or a copy of the article, contact bandreas@kent.edu.

Hocking County has more documented species of mosses (and liverworts and hornworts) than any other Ohio county. According to the Ohio Moss atlas (ohiomosslichen.org), there are 241 moss species reported from the county. In the Evansia manuscript (Andreas & Moosbrugger 2020), 235 species are reported. The difference in these numbers is based on the fact that the Ohio Moss and Lichen Association moss atlas also includes literature-cited specimens, whereas the manuscript only included verified herbarium records. Jackson County, with similar geology, has 211 moss species. Franklin County, where limestone/dolomite dominate the substrate, has 200 moss species (ohiomosslichen.org). The number of moss species for the remaining 85 counties range from 14 (Putnam County), to 192 (Adams County). Miller (1964) reported 85 liverwort species from Hocking County; for the remaining 87 counties, 041 species. [Miller’s total species per county is no longer accurate, but his is the last published account of Ohio liverworts.]

The geology of Hocking County is the most important single factor that makes the county unique. With the exception of the extreme western area, approximately 82% of the county is located in the Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau physiographic region of Ohio (Brockman 1998). In terms of geologic time, this means that Hocking County has been available to plant growth while the glaciated portion of Ohio was under ice. Most of the exposed bedrock is sandstone or conglomerate of Pennsylvanian and Mississippian age. The dominant geological feature in the Hocking Hills region, and the location of most bryophyte collections, is the Black Hand Sandstone of the Cuyahoga formation. The differential weathering of the Black Hand Sandstone allows for the deep gorges, vertical cliffs, and rock shelters characteristic of the region (Andreas & Moosbrugger 2020). These gorges are dominated by hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), cherry (sweet) birch (Betula lenta), maples (Acer rubrum and A. saccharum), and tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera).

These unique geological features have resulted in much of the county being set aside as parks and preserves. About 5.5% of the county is owned by the State of Ohio, either as state parks or forests (11,000 acres) (www.hockinghills.com, accessed 9 September 2020), or state nature preserves (3500 acres) (Division of Natural Areas and Preserves 1996). Ten percent (50,711 acres) is in the federally-owned Wayne National Forest (personal communication, G. R. Scott, Forest Botanist, 8 September 2020). These government-owned properties are often highly impacted by timber harvests and high visitation. A few of the State nature preserves, such as Robinson Falls, Sheick Hollow, and Little Rocky Hollow, lack trail systems and require permits to enter, and are subject to far lower levels of anthropogenic disturbance. Crane Hollow Preserve, occupying about 1,988 acres, is the single largest private preserve. In addition, many private landowners have put conservation easements on properties, which will slow down subdivision and anthropogenic disturbances.

The unique geology has attracted many botanists to the county. The oldest bryophyte record collected in Hocking County was made in 1899 by W. A. Kellerman (Atrichum angustatum (Bridel) Bruch & Schimper (Kellerman s.n. (OS)). Since then, numerous professional and amateur bryologists have contributed to the 5,408 bryophyte herbarium records in the Consortium of North American Bryophyte Herbaria (CNABH) (last accessed 14 September 2021). The first comprehensive list of Hocking County bryophytes was from collections made at Crane Hollow Preserve (Snider & He 1990). Snider and He reported 178 mosses, 42 liverworts, and 3 hornworts. In the fall of 2018, Crane Hollow Preserve was the site for the Fall Foray of the Ohio Moss and Lichen Association (Andreas & Showman 2018). From the foray, 196 moss species, 33 liverwort species, and one hornwort species were collected. Based on herbarium records in the CNABH, in the years 1944, 1968, and 2012, Hocking County was the location for field trips held in association with professional botany meetings. Between the publication of the 2020 manuscript, and 14 September 2021, an additional 440 herbarium specimens from Hocking County have been added to the CNABH. The majority of these are historical records that have been databased.

A total of 3 hornwort, 89 liverwort and 235 moss species were reported from Hocking County (Andreas & Moosbrugger 2020). Table 1 is a summary of the number of bryophytes, by group, found in the State of Ohio and Hocking County. Approximately 73% of Ohio liverwort species, and 60% of Ohio’s moss species have been collected in Hocking County.

Hocking County is the only location for three Ohio moss species: Andreaea rupestris, Ephemerum crassinervium var. texanum, and Fissidens closteri. Four moss species, Anomobryum julaceum, Campylopus tallulensis, Diphyscium mucronifolium, and Grimmia olneyi, are confirmed in Hocking County and one other Ohio county (ohiomosslichen.org). Nine of the 28 mosses listed as rare in Ohio (Division of Natural Areas and Preserves 2019), occur in Hocking County: Amphidium mougeotii, Andreaea rupestris, Anomobryum julaceum, Camplyostelium saxicola, Diphysicum mucronfolium, Fissidens hyalinus, Loeskeobryum brevirostre, Neckera pennata, and Pohlia elongata (Andreas & Moosbrugger 2020).

Hocking County is the only Ohio location for six liverwort species: Lejeunea lamacerina subsp. gemminata, Marsupella sphacelata, Plagiochila austinii, Plagiochila virginica, Radula tenax, and Tritomaria exsecta (CNABH).

Table 1. Summary of the number of bryophyte species documented in Ohio and Hocking County. The number for Ohio hornworts and liverworts is from Miller (1964), and the number of mosses is from the atlas of Ohio mosses (ohiomosslichen.org). The number for Hocking County is from Andreas & Moosbrugger 2020.


Andreas, B.K. and J. Moosbrugger. 2020. The bryophytes of Crane Hollow Preserve and Hocking County, Ohio. Evansia 37: 104–124.

Andreas, B.K. and R.A. Showman. 2018. 2018 Fall Foray conducted at Crane Hollow Preserve, Hocking County, Ohio. Obelisk 15:38–42.

Brockman, C.S. 1998. Physiographic regions of Ohio. Ohio Division of Geological Survey. 1 map + 1 table.

Division of Natural Areas and Preserves. 2019. Rare Native Ohio Plants. 2018–2019 Status List. Department of Natural Resources, Columbus, OH. 20 p.

Division of Natural Areas and Preserves. 1996. Directory of Ohio’s State Nature Preserves. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Columbus, OH. 115 p.

Miller, H.A. 1964. Ohio Liverworts. Ohio J. Sci. 64: 177–184.

Snider, J. A. and S. He. 1990. A Catalogue of the Bryophyte Flora of Crane Hollow Nature Preserve, Hocking County, OH. (self-published).

Barbara K. Andreas, Joe Moosbrugger