A little bit about moss

January 30th 2020

A little bit about moss

Given the amount of rain we’ve had in 2020 so far it might be a good time to have a quick look at one plant type that simply loves this weather – the mosses.

There are, give or take a few thousand, about 12,000 species of moss world-wide. Mosses are non-vascular plants that get the water and nutrients they need mainly through their leaves and use carbon-dioxide and sunlight to create food by photosynthesis.

Mosses don’t have seeds but produce spores which, in the majority of cases, are dispersed by the wind. So, they must really love our weather!

The photographs here show the ‘fruiting’ bodies or sporophytes of one moss growing on a bridge parapet near Oldany.  The whole sporophyte consists of a long slender stalk, known as the seta, and this ends with a green capsule which is protected from drying out by the reddish-brown hood or calyptra.

The calyptra falls off when the capsule is mature exposing a tiny cap, known as the operculum. Once it falls away, or in some cases  is ejected by forced air, for example in sphagnum moss, the spores are ready to be dispersed.

A truly amazing process without doubt; next time you complain about having moss in your lawn try to look on it as something worth preserving.

David Haines

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