P.carolinianusANBG2.jpg carolinianusDCC283.gif
Phaeoceros carolinianus plants in the
Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra.
Spores of P. carolinianus.

Welcome to the home page of the Australian Hornwort project.


The hornworts are a small but intriguing group of plants. As the sister group to all of the vascular plants, they are pivotal in understanding the transition from non-vascular to vascular plants, from the dominance of the gametophyte stage in the plant life cycle to the dominance of the sporophyte stage.

While hornworts are a relatively small group, with anything from 150 to 200 species worldwide, are one of the many cryptogamic organisms which play an important ecological role in waterways, soil and epiphytic habitats. The hornwort genera Anthoceros, Phaeoceros, Phymatoceros and Paraphymatoceros are primary colonisers in Australia of bare soil on roadside verges, soil banks, tracks and paths. The genera Megaceros and to a lesser extent Folioceros are important in temperate and tropical rainforest waterways colonising the rocks, stones, fallen branches, logs and banks of creeks. These semi-aquatic hornworts along with other aquatic liverworts and mosses are an important source of food and shelter for aquatic invertebrates and protists. The genus Dendroceros is exclusively tropical and exclusively epiphytic or epiphyllous, growing on the trunks, branch tips and leaves of tropical trees, palms and ferns.

The hornworts possess a number of unique characteristics:

  1. a needle or horn-shaped sporophyte
  2. non-synchronous spore production
  3. basal meristematic region located at the base of the sporophyte
  4. a single large chloroplast with an associated pyrenoid per cell typical of many of the genera, but with exceptions
  5. symbiotic relationship with the cyanobacteria, Nostoc.
  6. Pseudoelaters



  • The aim of this project is to produce useful, detailed descriptions of all Australian species SpeciesProfiles.
  • To provide comprehensive and detailed illustrations and images of all Australian species.
  • To produce easy to use keys
  • To provide links to information pertaining to hornworts in general
  • To produce a digital photo album of hornworts from South America
-- ChristineCargill - 22 Nov 2008
  • Set VIEW_TEMPLATE = GalleryView?


carolinianusDCC283 WA Phaeoceros sp. whole spore whole distal spore gametophyte gametophyte prox. spore2

There are 7 images.

I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
DCC_711_PhaeocerosWA.JPGJPG DCC_711_PhaeocerosWA.JPG manage 987 K 2008-12-01 - 17:53 ChristineCargill WA Phaeoceros sp.
P._engellii.jpgjpg P._engellii.jpg manage 118 K 2008-12-08 - 16:58 ChristineCargill gametophyte
P.carolinianusANBG2.jpgjpg P.carolinianusANBG2.jpg manage 100 K 2008-12-08 - 17:27 ChristineCargill gametophyte
carolinianusDCC283.gifgif carolinianusDCC283.gif manage 207 K 2008-12-12 - 19:24 ChristineCargill  
distal-spore-whole2.jpgjpg distal-spore-whole2.jpg manage 52 K 2008-12-08 - 17:14 ChristineCargill whole spore
distal-spore2.jpgjpg distal-spore2.jpg manage 55 K 2008-12-08 - 17:12 ChristineCargill whole distal spore
igp_300_225_P._engellii.jpgjpg igp_300_225_P._engellii.jpg manage 90 K 2010-01-11 - 13:18 UnknownUser  
proximal-spore2.jpgjpg proximal-spore2.jpg manage 66 K 2008-12-08 - 17:15 ChristineCargill prox. spore2