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Bryophytes..specifically mosses!


By Lori


The snow has melted (mostly) in the bush and I’m finding frozen seeps along the side of the hill…looks strange like a waterfall solidified; but, there’s another sight that is just as marvellous…the screaming green of the lovely mosses that coat the ancient rocks. I never knew there were so many different types…I’ve been busy trying to get decent pictures to post. The new camera is revealing it’s secrets to me and things are improving somewhat, and the weather took a turn for the better as well…yesterday it was almost 20 deg. C…that’s summer!…but it lasted only for the one day, as we are sitting at about 12 deg. today…with sun and a little less wind. …sigh…
Back to the bryophytes… I have posted pics of the area around the old well (which is right beside the spring flooded stream) …and of the rocks which are moss covered and lovely while everywhere there is dull dried grasses and barrenness.
In response to a comment from a goY friend I decided to take a really close look at the mosses growing there and see how many different types were in the small area around the old well! Was I in for a surprise!
There are hundreds of different types of moss…but I’m reasonably sure that the type most common here is sphagnum…it will grow on trees, rocks, or in swampy bogs…and the reason why it likes moisture and rain so much is that it is an epiphyte. It does not have roots…it simply perches on a surface…it does not invade the bark of a tree it simply uses it for support and draws it’s nutrients from the air and water as it has neither xylem nor phloem which transport water and nutrients in vascular plants. They grow on soil, rock, living trees as well as rotting log…forest or swamp..they are adaptable to extreme environs. Mosses, liverworts and hornworts are all bryophytes. It is early days yet to find pictures of the liverworts (hepaticas) and hornworts but I’ve found a very interesting moss which looks like a combination moss/fern! Mosses reproduce sexually…they produce little globes on slender stems that stand above the foliage. These are gametophytes and may be either male or female. The male gametophyte produces pollen which is distributed to the female gametophytes (ovules) in rainwater, and ripens into a tiny plant.
In an effort to get a better look at the mosses, I cleaned up the area with a rake! How could I do such a thing??? welllll….. I noticed that I was disturbing the mosses somewhat and I did my best not to …but I think I may have done some damage to the colony and it will need some TLC to recover… mea culpa. pic is Dicranum scoparium… broom fork moss.

There is also a lot of “reindeer moss” on the trees and it is so beautiful that photos can’t do it justice. The deer feed on it where it’s plentiful and it is nutritious food in a barren landscape or a delicious, vitamin-rich tonic in the forest. There is even a type that is known a “snow lichen”… Lichens don’t have roots, stems or leaves…they are a very zen plant…they simply are! lol…

I found a list of common mosses but cannot put a proper name to the mosses I’ve photographed…
There are: Bryum, Leucobryum, Pohlia, Anacamptodon, Ceratodon, Polytrichum, Orthotrichum, Tortula, Grimmia,
Dicranum, and Thuidium…and further research will no doubt give me the answers I crave. I will update and add more photos in the coming week, as I am able.
I have a new respect for mosses and lichens…I will end with a last photo of a tree lichen…amazing stuff!

Have found a liverwort beside the little stream…took a pic today but to my disgust it was not publishable. Is it my aging eyes or the ……camera…will publish pic tomorrow when I can take a better one.
insert pic here

Today I went moss hunting and took 96 shots…(not all of them were any good) I also found that it is really difficult to find definitive identification…there are so many types of moss and soooo many pictures…I got lost. But am happy to say that I think I found that the moss most common here is Eurhynchium praelongum…or Kindbergia praelonga…(same moss~different name). Also found mention of a type that happily grows on concrete in little pin cushions called Grimmia pulvinata, which is growing on my front steps!! I even found an online biology course from UBC specifically on bryophytes!
In one of the lab notes there was mention of “Atrichum selwynii” as a “good garden moss”… and “Bryum argentium” as “urban moss”… must be resistant to the effects of pollution??

I found seven that resemble what grows on logs, trees, and stones around here…: Claopodium crispifolium, Eurhynchium praelongum, Grimmia pulvinata, Dicranum scorparium, Polytrichum juniperinum, Atrichum selwynii, and Plagiochila porelliodes. Now I just have to get them sorted to the right pictures!! Yikes.
This is one huge tangent I’m off on…..?? heee heee heee…. give it a rest, Lori…tomorrow is another day!

More blog posts by Lori

Previous post: Maple sugaring, nature trails and rest spots

Next post: Spring on the calendar....but winter in our gardens.



fascinating, i love that feathery one; close ups lovely and clear

12 Apr, 2011


Wow! Look at that last photo...two children and a dog playing!! Brilliant....oh, and all the other photos are great too! :))

12 Apr, 2011


I love looking at the mosses when we are out walking. They are a much under-rated group of life and well worth taking the time to appreciate. Nice pictures, Lori.

12 Apr, 2011


interesting blog Lori, i didnt realise there were so many, it does add to the look i think and love that raindeer moss, enjoyed the read and pics :o)

12 Apr, 2011


Thanks all..
Bulbaholic: they are fascinating! My interest started this past winter when I found an orange/red jellylike thing growing on a dead hemlock tree! turned out it was a type of fungus, Dacrymyces, or Jelly Fungus. That started me looking at lichens and mosses, as they share the same niche...You are quite right they are under-appreciated, but what a revelation when we finally clue-in!
Karen: LOL...I knew I'd blown it when I took the pic...but forgot and downloaded it to my computer. When I got a good look at it I I thought I'd plunk it down on the last spot in my blog and see if anybody else liked it! I just might make it my new avatar...everyone's sure to be tired of looking at my old gib...
Sticki and's great to find a new interest...and I finally figured out my camera! too soon old...too late smart! lol.

12 Apr, 2011


thanks, Lori. love the reindeer moss, and like the idea for a new avatar, but you are NOT old!

13 Apr, 2011


Hi Lori, just been looking at older blogs and I come across this one posted by you. Fantastic! It’s a wonderful, educational read with amazing photographs.
Thanks for sharing despite it being many years since you have added it.

17 Jul, 2020


thankyou, Kate. I have so many pictures of mosses and fungi. Also, too many irons in the fire... I have to go back and update with more recent info, but get distracted by the next thing... and the next... et cetera. biggest lesson learned is that mosses do not like cultivation or disturbance... no raking... and careful weeding. I have brought some down from the forest to fill up under the walnut almost nothing else grows there. it's a nice carpet of soft green, delightful under the toes. (It also served to remind me how I have disliked this camera from day one... sigh.) bracken ferns and ferns of all descriptions are very interesting, too.

17 Jul, 2020


Thank you, Lori. I can imagine there are not enough hours in the day for you! I really enjoyed your blog, it was fascinating. Thanks also for the additional info today. We’ve tried encouraging moss and fungi in certain areas, albeit the garden is small. However, you’ve given me some very useful and educational advice.
I’m sorry you’ve had some issues with your camera :-(
Saying that, the pics are still great to see!! 😊

17 Jul, 2020


glad to be of help/interest. One never knows when posting whether anyone else will find your blog so. thanks for your input. :-)

18 Jul, 2020

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