We studied species richness, composition and vertical distribution of epiphytic bryophytes in submontane rainforest of Central Sulawesi. Bryophytes were sampled on eight canopy trees and on eight trees in the forest understorey. Microclimate was measured at trunk bases and at crown bases. The total recorded number of 146 epiphytic bryophyte species is among the highest ever reported for tropical forests and underlines the importance of the Malesian region as a global biodiversity hotspot. Species composition differed significantly between understorey trees and canopy tree trunks on the one hand, and the forest canopy on the other. Fourty-five percent of the bryophyte species were restricted to canopy tree crowns, 12% to the understorey. Dendroid and fan-like species mainly occurred in the forest understorey whereas tufts were most species rich in the tree crowns. The findings reflect the different microclimatic regimes and substrates found in the understorey and in the forest canopy. The results indicate that assessments of the bryophyte diversity of tropical forests are inadequate when understorey trees and tree crowns are excluded.