Tree Moss


I have always had an affinity for tree moss.  Emerald green in color, tree moss grows around the base of live trees and on fallen trunks, and give a mystical appearance to the woods.  The eeriness of the shaded environment in which they grow, is overcome by its alluring beauty, like a layer of green felt, providing a soft and cushiony facade.

Moss does not happen upon this setting or habitat by chance.  It is not an unintentional occurrence created by the spirit of the forest.  The gloomy dimness of the surroundings in which the moss exists and flourishes is a result of its needs, not a supernatural inducement.

Moss grows in damp, shady locations because they are non-vascular plants, known as bryophytes.  They lack vascular tissue, therefore they cannot retain water, nor have the ability to deliver it to other parts of their plant body.  Since they have no way of transporting water through the plant, they must have a damp environment to grow, and reproduce.  Reproduction is accomplished using spores, not seeds, and so they do not have flowers.

Even though moss likes the shade, they are autotrophic, and require at least enough sunlight to conduct photosynthesis.  They are capable of self-nourishment by using inorganic materials as a source of nutrients, but need sunlight as a source of energy.

Some people wonder if this charming moss will injure or endanger the tree on which it covers like a delicate and supple blanket of green.  But, not to worry.  Being a epiphyte, moss is a plant that grows non-parasitically upon another plant.  Its moisture and nutrients are acquired from the air, rain, and even from the accumulated debris around the tree’s base, but not from the tree to which it is attached.  But you ask, how can this be?  Well, moss does not have any roots.  They are anchored by threadlike rhizoids, which are simply hair-like protuberances that extend from the lower epidermal cells of bryophytes.

But even without knowing the technical details, when we find and observe this elegant and fascination adornment of the woods, it entices us, and beckons us to stare at its docile yet seductive beautifulness.  You often can’t resist touching its softness.  Like a sponge, it absorbs your touch, and the impression you leave in its substance, slowly rises and returns to its original form.

It’s form is luxurious, and blankets its host like the well manicured green of a golf course.  A phenomenon of nature that provides us with a serene and lasting image of the inner being of the woods.  An enduring impression that lives even in our mind’s eye.  An enduring impression that lives, even in our mind’s eye.  Existing in solitude and peace, the tree moss is an affecting entity.

Copyright © 2014 by John D. McCann

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One thought on “Tree Moss”

  1. I, too, am found of tree moss. Your story is a beautiful description. I ran across it accidentally in search of the scientific name of the green beauty that I have photos of…I am getting ready to post them on facebook. I saw your photo in Google images and had to visit your page. Thank you for sharing.
    ~ Jennifer.

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