Tuesday, 25 March 2014
Moss….beautiful, but a headache!
Back in February I noticed, on a wall, a clump of Moss that appeared to be ‘in flower’, curiosity got the better of me and I had to get out the macro lens and take some photographs. Later that evening while viewing the images on the computer I suddenly realised that Moss is something that can be found in many places all around us, on walls, on trees, along footpaths etc. but how often do we take the time, if we notice them at all, to have a closer look?
So, the next few times that I went ‘out and about’ I made a point of taking some more photographs…then I began to realise how diverse and beautiful these little plants are.
Now this is where the headache part comes in!…once I’d got a few photographs I needed some ID’s to go with them. Needless to say the more I looked, in books and on the internet, the more confused I became…for something so small it sure has a complicated life cycle….
…..and some big words! I ‘borrowed’ this diagram from the internet. (© The Macraw-Hill companies, Inc.)
If you want to learn some more go to the home page of the British Bryological Society website and navigate to learning more > what is a bryophyte?
I’ve just purchased - Mosses and Liverworts of Britain and Ireland, a Field Guide - from them, hopefully, when it arrives the headaches should calm down a little??
Here’s where I’ve got to so far…
Grey Cushion Moss (grimmia pulvinata) showing the beaked Sporangium. Sometimes referred to as Hedgehog Moss as it forms grey rounded clumps that look similar(?) to Hedgehogs. Grows on walls and rocks and is common in lowland Britain (below 1000m).
Bristly Haircap (polytrichum piliferum) male ‘flowers’. A low growing moss, 4cm or less, common and widespread on acid soils such as dry sandy heathland.
Juniper Haircap (polystrichum juniperinum) showing the densely packed sporophytes. Grows to about 4cm tall on free draining grassy heathland, fixed dunes etc.
The sporophytes of at least three unknown species of Moss.
Star Moss (tortula ruralis) can grow in many types of soil but most often on calcareous soil. It has the ability to ‘dry out’,turn reddish brown and become dormant. Then, many decades later, rehydrate and become ‘active’ once again.
Not wishing to inflict any headaches on you but I hope this has inspired you to look a mosses a little closer now, I’m sure that you’ll be amazed at the beauty!
If you do want a headache…try looking at and researching Lichen, a subject that’s as equally interesting and confusing as Mosses!……Where are the pills?…I’ve got a really bad headache!!
Hopefully I've got all the ID's correct but if you've spotted something that I've got wrong please let me know.