As the old axiom goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss, and Mythbusters proved that to be true. As part three of my trilogy about lichens, fungi and mosses, I was wondering how deep into some of our rain forest areas I’d have to go to find examples of mosses (with Mossvale Park displaying less moss than you’d expect). But with the weather we’ve been having this Winter and Spring, a lot of moss has emerged in our yard, so it was an easy place to begin. Funny how sometimes the things of interest are right around you and under your nose, but you tend to overlook them because they are so familiar.
Now mosses belong to a class of plants called Bryophytes (studied by bryologists – true) and can be found all over the world, much like lichen and fungi. While they thrive in damp conditions, they can also be found in drier climates, though less prolific; but shady, cool, conditions always help. It doesn’t appear to be an issue whether the conditions are fresh or salt water, you’ll invariably find them inhabiting both environments. And, once again, I had great difficulty in identifying the mosses that I found, so I’ve ended up not trying to give them any names. I did find some botanical names, but common names eluded me except for this one, which may be a star moss.
Some of the mosses in our yard were very delicate and tiny things indeed, with the bulbs on one type not much more than 2-3mm in length. And the closer that you got, the more interesting were the details of these wee plants. You really do need to get up close and personal to see more of the fine detail in these tiny plants and, in doing so, required some additional techniques (taking multiple photographs and then stacking them with software) so that more than just one of two or the bulbs were in focus.
And what was even more surprising is that I noticed creatures that were even smaller wandering around in the forest of moss. If you have a look at the previous photograph ( very bottom right) you’ll see a small round and greyish object. It happens to be a small critter that, when enlarged, gives you a better glimpse of what it is (a mite of some sort I assume). Now I’m sure that you’ll find similar in other environments as well, but being so small, they tend to go unnoticed. And who knows, the second one could be the same, or a cousin, as they were taken a day apart.
And just across the road there is a veritable forest of moss clinging to the hillside next to the road, providing purchase for all manner of other plant life. Because the area is predominantly in the shade all year round, it’s a perfect haven for moss to flourish. But most of it is the same wherever you look in this neighbourhood, so finding different subjects hasn’t been easy.
And to round things out, this is what I used to photograph the smallest subjects; various components cobbled together to provide a way of getting high magnification, but without having to be right on top of the subjects. This setup was also used for some of the lichen and fungi photographs.
Looking closer at the world reveals things that often take you by surprise, as there’s so much hidden life all around you, if you just stop and take a closer look. Though that tends to be a rare thing nowadays, as staring into mobile phones and the like seems to be a far more rewarding activity for so many people.