The Suitcase Lady

Moss

April 7, 2020, 9:32 pm

Spring refuses to be quarantined. Living in a northern climate, I know snow and ice can happen in April. Yet, signs of spring, a.k.a., hope, are still to be found.

A short walk from our home is a 164 acre park that is mostly forested. Although no trees are yet evidencing any signs of tiny green leaves, our woods is lush with brilliant emerald green hues. Moss carpets the forest floor and slipcovers the rocks and fallen logs. It looks exactly like an enchanted forest in a beautiful fairytale.

This magical sight led me to conjure up my long ago college botany classes and the word bryophytes, the moss family. Some reading on that topic seemed to be in order. Here are ten highlights from my search.

    • Mosses are primitive plants which first appeared on earth about 450 million years ago. Their structure remains basically unchanged.
    • There are at least 12,000 species of moss, and they cover the globe with the exception of saltwater environments.
    • Mosses have no flowers, seeds or roots. Reproduction is via spores on hairlike stalks.
    • Moss rhizoids, which resemble root hairs, anchor the plants to many surfaces both hard and soft.
    • Mosses do not have cells that move water like the vascular plants that now dominate the world’s fauna. Instead, they soak in water from the air like sponges.
    • Many moss plants have leaves that are only one cell thick.
    • A patch of moss is made up of multiple tiny plants that hold each other up and hold in water.
    • Dried moss can be rehydrated and returned to life.
    • Beware of moss imposters. The beautiful “Spanish moss” that hangs from trees down South is actually an air plant (epiphyte) of the pineapple family.
    • Moss is a “rock star” in Japan. Cultivating and touring moss gardens are beloved activities. And a recent phenomenon is the “moss girls”. Young ladies sport jewelry made from tiny, water-filled glass balls with living moss plants growing inside. They also tour moss gardens and watch moss grow. Here’s a link to this craze.

1 Comment for this entry

  • evie robillard

    enchanting. i’m tempted to call you even if it’s 4am–just to see the fog beneath the full moon!