Where snow lies deep and tall woody plants are unable to survive they are replaced by crusts and mats of liverworts so tiny that individual plants are barely visible to the naked eye. These can grow in such diversity that eight species have been recorded in a square centimetre.
THE most characteristic liverwort species are Gymnomitrion concinnatum, Nardia scalaris, Anthelia juratzkana and Marsupella sphacelata, but these communities are also home to less common plants such as M. adusta, M. alpina, M. brevissima, Lophozia sudetica, Pleurocladula albescens and Moerckia blyttii.
The liverwort mats are dotted with occasional vascular plants including dwarf willow (Salix herbacea), the delicate starry saxifrage (Saxifraga stellaris), three-leaved rush (Juncus trifidus), spiked woodrush (Luzula spicata) and the course grass (Deschampsia cespitosa ssp. Alpina).