Moss

March 1, 2019

Many people seem to hate moss.  I don't get it.  In late winter when most of the landscape is grey, brown and gloomy, moss is one of the only green things; unless, of course, you garden like me and realize the special advantage of having some conifers or broadleaf evergreens around.  The variously green species of moss, which so many despise, is found growing on bark, wood, soil, rock, in both moist and xeric locations, in pristine habitat and also in very disturbed sites.  Of course, what species are found depends on the habitat, since (just like with flowering plants) there are both conservative and weedy mosses.   FYI there are about 350 moss species found in Indiana and Illinois.  What I find particularly difficult to understand is how one can hate a plant that is free and has zero maintenance (no feeding, no watering, no mowing, that you probably did not have to plant), and that enlivens an otherwise dull landscape.  When on the ground (thus a ground cover), and regardless of season, the moss also serves to reduce erosion as well as helping keep us, and our dog, from tracking mud should we walk on it.  Plus the moss is beautiful, adding yet another dimension to even the best landscape.  But understand that moss will not withstand high traffic locations.  I use moss ornamentally in various ways.  One of the best species for ornamental use is Silky Moss (Bryum caespiticium) shown above.  Silky Moss is a cosmopolitan plant found in sandy loam and the species mostly likely to be found in the cracks of walkways as well as at the edge of parking lots.  This shiny verdant bryophyte also is common on rooftops (in sites favoring it development) where it can, even though visually appealing, speed the decline of the roofing material.  However, all the talk and posts indicating that moss (or lichens) found on trees harm the tree is nonsense and the suggestion that the bark should be power washed is utter LUNACY.  A mantra I often share is, JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN DO SOMETHING DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD.

 

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