Mosses, or the taxonomic division Bryophyta, are small, non-vascular flowerless plants that typically form dense green clumps or mats, often in damp or shady locations. The individual plants are usually composed of simple leaves that are generally only one cell thick, attached to a stem that may be branched or unbranched and has only a limited role in conducting water and nutrients. Although some species have conducting tissues, these are generally poorly developed and structurally different from similar tissue found in vascular plants. Mosses do not have seeds and after fertilisation develop sporophytes with unbranched stalks topped with single capsules containing spores. They are typically 0.2–10 cm (0.1–3.9 in) tall, though some species are much larger. Dawsonia, the tallest moss in the world, can grow to 50 cm (20 in) in height.
Mosses are commonly confused with hornworts, liverworts and lichens. Mosses were formerly grouped with the hornworts and liverworts as ”non-vascular” plants in the division ”bryophytes”, all of them having the haploid gametophyte generation as the dominant phase of the life cycle. This contrasts with the pattern in all vascular plants (seed plants and pteridophytes), where the diploid sporophyte generation is dominant. Lichens may superficially resemble mosses, and sometimes have common names that include the word ”moss” (e.g., ”reindeer moss” or ”Iceland moss”), but they are not related to mosses.:3 Mosses are now classified on their own as the division Bryophyta. There are approximately 12,000 species.