To date, the plant has been found only in the Alps and is thus considered an endemite. Some 30 localities are known, with further potentially suited locations existing. New finds would thus be possible. Its habitat is moist, sandy soil from puddles of meltwater with fluctuating water levels. The species often forms pure stands, with population sizes fluctuating strongly from year to year.
It’s a just a few millimetres long, mostly fork-like branched liverwort. Instead of being segmented into root, stalk and leaves, it forms a uniform thalloid (= plant body). Not all liverwort are thallose. Most of them form leaflike organs. Propagation can take place sexually by means of spores or vegetatively by means of bulbils. As the spores are very large and cannot be dispersed with the wind, their ability to spread is limited.
The Breidler-Crystalwort is one of very few mosses that until now have been discovered only in the Alpine region.
The Breidler-Crystalwort is on the red list as rare and potentially endangered. Europe-wide it is also protected by the Bern Convention (an agreement for the preservation of free-living species and their habitats). Construction activity, climate change and being stepped on by grazing cattle are the main reasons for endangerment. Localities must be protected against construction activity and too much exposure to grazing cattle, and the water supply in the surroundings must not be subjected to any disturbance whatsoever.
Literature profile: Norbert Schnyder (2006): Merkblätter Artenschutz – Moose © BAFU, NISM, FUB.