A moss is a bryophyte, a group of non-vascular plants that grow on land. Bryophytes are typically limited in their size and structure and thrive in moist environments. Bryophytes reproduce by spores.
Mosses possess an underground tissue, much like a root, that takes in water and nutrients from its soil. Mosses have symmetry. If you cut one in half, right down the middle, it will produce two equal halves, unlike some other bryophytes.
Another unique trait for moss is that it has stomata, or cells specially designed for the exchange of gas by way of photosynthesis. These stomata are found on their sporophytes. Moss does not have highly developed leaves or stems.
The commercial value of mosses is as the main component of peat, which is needed for potting soil. Some plants, like azaleas, strawberries, and rhododendrons, prefer the acidic soil created by peat moss. Moss can also be used to adorn gardens, make floral arrangements, and create mulch. Moss can also be used for insulation and because of its absorbent qualities.
Gardening with Moss
Gardening with moss is energizing, stress reducing, and pleasing to the eye. For centuries, the Japanese have been cultivating the earth with moss because of the serenity and beauty it adds to any garden. Moss is known to
The life cycle of moss begins with a spore that grows to make a protonema, a bulk of t filaments. Moss mass (protonemata), can survive in damp soil, rocks, concrete, or tree bark. The protonematic stage is a passing one in the life of a moss. The protenama will produce the gametophore. A clump of protonemata may bring forth gametophore, which results in a patch of moss.
There is a period in the moss life cycle when they do have a double set of paired chromosomes, but this happens only during the sporophyte stage.
After fertilization, the young sporophyte finds its way out of the archegonial venter. It takes about a three to six months for the sporophyte to fully mature. The sporophyte body is made of a long stalk, which is called a seta, and a capsule topped by a cap called the operculum. Inside the capsule, cells go through the process of meiosis to form spores. This, in turn, starts the cycle all over again.
Moss depends heavily upon the wind to disseminate the spores. Mosses also will spread asexually by sending out new shoots every spring from the plants last year.as well as fragmentation. Parts of the moss body can break off, be moved along by wind or water, and produce a new plant if the moisture permits.
Myths about Moss
One myth about moss is that it can only live in the shade. While it is true that some mosses prefer shade, others can tolerate the direct sun.
A second misunderstanding about moss is that it only grows on the north side of trees. Now, whether or not moss grows mostly on the north side of trees depends to a large extent, on where you live. There is a tendency for some species of moss to grow on the northern side of a tree, if in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere mosses would tend to grow on the south side of trees, since that side would be shadier.
Yet another myth was that moss is deadly to a lawn. This is not true. Moss does often show up when there is little or no grass left in a yard, but that is likely because the yard was already dying. The moss will grow in those situations, but if the yard is merely cultivated, the moss will most probably disappear.
What about the old adage, “A rolling stone gathers no moss?” That is actually true. If a rock is in constant motion, moss, which grows very slowly, does not have time to plant itself. The friction of the rock will cause any moss that was present, to fall off. No new moss will have an opportunity to collect.
One myth is that moss is parasitic. This is false because moss does not possess any roots or other structure that can penetrate a host, therefore it is not parasitic.
Moss is a fascinating plant that has lived for a long time on earth. It has endured the earth’s numerous and devastating changes, and still survives as a resilient and resourceful plant which can teach us much about our world.