The Bryaceae are a very large and cosmopolitan family with a well-deserved reputation for taxonomic intractability. They are erect plants growing mostly on soil or rock, usually with nodding capsules and well-developed double peristomes. The singly-costate leaves can be variable in form, but they are usually bordered and reflexed at the margins and have hexagonal or rhombic-hexagonal laminal cells. The occurrence and variability of asexual reproductive structures, if present, are often employed to characterise species or species complexes, particularly in Bryum, which is by far the largest genus. A modest number of common species can be readily identified by easily observed gametophytic features. One such common and distinctive taxon has often been regionally termed Bryum billardierei var. platyloma. For complex reasons, the most appropriate name for this taxon is considered here to be Rosulabryum subtomentosum. The recognition of many species requires microscopic examination, often including peristome detail. The beginning student, wishing to come to grips with the more distinctive members of this family, would do well to collect and examine ample and fruiting material only. Little consensus exists concerning the generic boundaries within the family or even the limits of the family itself. Recent proposed changes to generic limits are due mostly to the incorporation of molecular analyses, which will no doubt continue in the future. The Bryaceae are here conceived in a fairly narrow sense, and are considered to include (in N.Z.) three genera: Bryum, Plagiobryum, and Rosulabryum. A total of 30 species are accepted for N.Z. The generic concepts employed here differ substantially from those presented in a recent treatment of the family for Australia, which recognised eight genera. Several genera included in the family by earlier Australasian workers, namely Leptobryum, Leptostomum, Orthodontium, Pohlia, and Schizymenium, as well as Ochiobryum, are here excluded from the Bryaceae.
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