I just noticed that all of a sudden we have moss growing in places where there seemingly wasn’t any just a few weeks ago. It’s been gray and damp, so conditions are certainly amenable. But where did all this moss come from?
|Moss on the trunk of our chaste tree |
Mosses are among the oldest plants on earth, going back 400-500 million years. Not surprisingly, their structure is very simple. They don’t have roots and instead use what are known as “rhizoids”, thin hair-like filaments, to attach themselves to rough surfaces. These rhizoids don’t take up water or nutrients so the plant extracts everything it needs from the air and water.
|Moss on our concrete patio|
Mosses don’t flower and hence don’t produce seeds; instead they reproduce by spores, like many other “prehistoric” plants.
|Moss in cracks between concrete slabs|
Moss can live in a dehydrated state for a long period of time. Within hours of receiving water, they rehydrate and resume photosynthesis—and once again assume their customary color. This is typically green but can also be brown, red or even white.
Moss grows best in moist and dark areas, which is why you’re more likely to find it in your shade garden or overwatered lawn than in a sun-drenched perennial bed.
|Moss on a pumice boulder. Pumice is very rough and porous so moss has an easy time attaching itself to this type of rock.|
In climates that get rain year round, moss is common. Many gardeners even consider it a nuisance, especially when it begins to grow in thick mats where it’s not wanted, like on roofs.
|Close-up of moss patch|
However, in our Mediterranean climate, moss is a harbinger of the rainy season and as such, we don’t get to enjoy it all that long. For me, the unexpected pop of color I keep finding in random places around the yard is a welcome sight.
So to answer my original question: Where did all this moss come from? It didn’t come from anywhere, it was always here.
|Lots of moss on rock; Yosemite National Park, California|