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….

Moss 1  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…

Moss 2  Cushion
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).

Moss 3  Bristly H
Bristly Haircap (polytrichum piliferum) male ‘flowers’. A low growing moss, 4cm or less, common and widespread on acid soils such as dry sandy heathland.

Moss 4 Strict H
Juniper Haircap (polystrichum juniperinum) showing the densely packed sporophytes. Grows to about 4cm tall on free draining grassy heathland, fixed dunes etc.

Moss 5 unknown many
The sporophytes of at least three unknown species of Moss.

Moss 6 Unknown

Moss 7 Unknown
Unknown species

Moss 8 star
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.


Margaret Adamson said...

HI Trevor I am not surprised you have a headache. I just would not know where to start nor have the time or patience for looking up all these mosses but your patience has paid off as the macro shots are stunning and the mosses are so beautiful. By the way Eileen and I didn't get to Portland Bill, weather was not right nor did we see the Dartford Warbler on the Downs nevertheless we had a good 2 days birding.

Carole M. said...

Trevor you have opened up a minefield! I can imagine how you might now be 'in the grips' -- you ventured there very innocently too. Beautiful photographs, are you flat to the ground taking these? Now you're going to have to think about the right equipment to sit on, or lay your camera on when taking your time photographing. It will expand like you say, possibly to lichens and fungi too now because you're bound to see these at the same time... It opens up our eyes when we go delving like this; it's all so amazing. A lovely post.

Roy Norris said...

You have taken some really fabulous macro shots Trevor.
This Moss business is a discipline all of its own and my brain is definitely hurting after a short look at some info on the species. This is an 'Anorak' pursuit and a whole new World. It really is an interesting subject though.
Just keep taking the tablets Trevor.{:))

holdingmoments said...

Fascinating Trev.
And I thought moth ID was hard!

Lovely shots; especially like the hedgehog moss.

ADRIAN said...

Trevor it is a wonderful miniature world out there.
Wonderful shots and all in flower..I can't help with ID. I have the same problem with mosses and lichens. Most of nature come to think.

douglas mcfarlane said...

That is a truly complicated life cycle, even with the diagram I'm a little (understatement of the year) confused. On our housing estate nearly all of the house roofs are covered in moss of one kind or another.

The Herald said...

Thank you Margaret. Sorry you didn't make it to Portland or get to see a Darty...maybe next time?...[;o)

Thanks Carole,. yeh, it's silly how a couple of chance photographs can drag you into something that you've seen but never 'taken notice off' before, it's all very interesting though!
Was I laying flat?...hmmm, how shall I say this?...yep,as flat as...er...my 'roundness' would allow!! Carole, I'm used to rolling around in the wet and the mud as I'm already into taking images of Fungi and I guess Lichen is the next thing to have a look at?...[;o)

Thank you Roy. Yeh, the anorak and a good stock of tablets are at the ready!!...[;o)

Thanks Keith. Moth ID?..easy peasy compared to this...lol
It's an interesting subject it's just a shame that it involves me getting down to ground level!!...[;o)

Adrian, it's more interesting, and complicated, than I ever thought...and I've not made a start on the Lichens yet!!...[;o)

Douglas, I'll send you some of my headache pills...lol.
You'll have to get your ladder out and go and investigate some of those roofs, you might be surprised at what you might find!...[;o)

Bob Bushell said...

How did I miss this one, I am sorry Trevor. Those plants are stunners indeed.

The Herald said...

No worries Bob...you're allowed to miss a few...lol...[;o)