Online Exhibit: Bryologia Europaea

image of robustum, detail from Bryologia Europaea
Robustum -- Detail from DICRANACEA
Bryologia Europaea
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The Publication

One of the most significant natural history books from the 19th century became part of the Library's collections in the late 1990s.

The six-volume Bryologia Europaea was published between 1836 and 1855. Written by two leading scientists of the era, Wilhelm Philipp Schimper and Philipp Bruch, the publication contains descriptions of all mosses known in 19th century Europe. The pioneering work introduced many species never before identified and is richly illustrated with lithographs by Wilhelm Theodor von Guembel. It is among the most important historic scientific works on bryology (the branch of botany concerned with the study of bryophytes, which include mosses, liverworts, and hornworts).

Cover of book, Bryologia Europaea
Title page, Bryologia Europaea

The flora of New York State includes many of the same species as 19th century Europe, and the work became a valuable source for scientists like Norton Miller with the New York State Museum's Biological Survey. Miller was researching the moss flora of New York's Adirondack High Peak region. Little is known of the biological diversity of this part of the state. The Bryologia Europaea held many surprises for Miller, since many of the species it helps him identify were never before known to exist in the Adirondack region.

The publication is difficult to locate and researchers previously had to consult specialized libraries at Harvard University, Cornell University, or in New York City. Acquisition of the six-volume set offered an opportunity for the New York State Library and the New York State Museum, both of the State Education Department, to share a valuable and productive resource.

The Bryologia Europaea can be found in the Manuscripts and Special Collections room on the 11th floor of the Cultural Education Center.

Other Resources

detail from WEISIACEAE Hymenostomum, Bryologia Europaea
Microstomum -
WEISIACEAE Hymenostomum,

Bryologia Europaea
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To see related material in the New York State Library (including Manuscripts and Special Collections) and the New York State Archives collections, use our online catalog and search "mosses" or "bryology".

Last Updated: August 16, 2017