How ridiculous is this subject? Moss serves no purpose other than to slide in where other, more useful plants, could grow. Or so it seems…
Take a stroll through a woodland in the fall.
The woods have turned to their winter gray and the path is strewn with the brown reminder of a green past. It will all soon be humus (not crushed chickpeas; that would be hummus).
A few evergreens provide some needed contrast, but everything else is bland…non-interesting…dead—or at the very least dormant.
Then you see a patch of bright, light gray on the ground.
It is a tiny bit of cushion moss. It is peeking out through the leaves providing a tinge of color and a soft place to step where there is usually hard, unforgiving ground. It is usually used in landscaping to provide a contrast between flowers and hardscape. It can actually be gathered from its forest home and transplanted into a house-side bed.
A little further along a line of green runs toward an old oak and encircles it. The greenery hugs the ground and seems to grow out rather than up.
Green mosses are abundant; especially in areas where the soil is poor and they are not impeded by other, more needy species of plant. They prevent such tragedies as erosion and they give tiny six-legged creatures a place to reside.
This type of moss is likely of the fern variety and has been used for ages past as a bandaid substitute. If one has a small flesh wound, this type of moss can be used to cover the area and arrest the flow of blood. These mosses can also be planted where other plants will not grow to give some greenery and protection to the soil.
The stroll ends as the adventurer follows the woodland path back toward home. To the side our friend notices a small stick. It is covered with a grayish substance that seems to cling and grow at the same time.
Ah, confusion. Is this another form of moss or is it some other creature altogether? A quick perusal through a naturalist encyclopedia reveals that it is a lichen and not even a cousin of the mosses previously found. This tiny symbiotic relationship is a bacteria and fungus living together. Their collective efforts will eventually devour the stick, at which time they will put there energies to work in other scavenging enterprises.
An eventful stroll that revealed some of the more unheralded creatures in the plant world. Mosses may be thought insignificant (they are inedible and largely unnoticed), nut they provide many necessary functions in the herbaceous world. They can be used to plug a leak (whether that be an open capillary or a rivulet on bare ground), and they provide some contrast to a graying world. Altogether necessary it seems to me.
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