19 March 2013

Moss, in a starring role

I woke up to the sound of rainfall this morning. Yesterday we had a hard downpour of ice pellets in the afternoon. Luckily, it didn't last long. When I went out with the dog, it was raining. You couldn't say that rain was "falling" — it was just dripping in big drops out of low clouds.

I'm getting to be an expert when it comes to rain. Only my disposition is sunny these days.

Moss likes the rain. I've never seen so much of it as now. It covers the ground in a thick carpet all around the yard and the vineyard. We have the kind you see in the picture above growing in big clumps out front in the shade of the hedge and the maple trees. I think it's pretty. I guess you could say I "lichen" it, if you pronounce the word as we do in the U.S.

I found a page on the web describing Polythichum or "star" mosses, and I guess it's some variety of that. Knowing my local blog friends, I'm sure somebody will tell me more about it. Until yesterday, I hadn't noticed that this kind of moss grows not just on the ground but also on tree trunks. In French, moss is mousse, which is also the name for foam and foam rubber. I hope there's none growing on me.


  1. Beautiful photos. Moss and lichen are very intriguing. I'm waiting for "our" blog friends to tell us the scientific and vernacular names.

  2. You must be joking, chm!
    There are many Polytrichum varieties... all look almost the same.. and as for that lichen... if Susan hasn't identified them by this evening, I'll get my books out.
    Until then, I'm taking advantage of a reasonably fine day!!!!

  3. Just stopped raining here -- again! Frequent cold showers -- that's our lot in life.

  4. So glad to hear your disposition is sunny, Ken! When it used to rain steady here in the NW for days on end, I used to get a little grumpy.
    Now, since I have so many interests and I've taken on a part-time position, a rainy day doesn't bother me in the least. It is so good for our plant material and one shouldn't forget it fills up the reservoirs!
    Because of our rainy climate, moss is everywhere and that is a good thing when it comes to making potted containers look vibrant!!!

  5. No idea with mosses. The best ID resource is the British Bryological Society Field Guide (now online) http://www.britishbryologicalsociety.org.uk/. All my French friends who are into mosses use this. I go on the moss and lichen outings and write down what I'm told, but it doesn't sink in -- even worse than fungi!

  6. Chris, I'll have to get Callie to lick back there.

  7. The moss does look pretty, if one (like me) didn't know any better, one might think it was grown on purpose.

  8. The moss could be Polytrichum juniperum or Atrichum undulatum or Anomodon viticulosus at a best guess... all are common... look the same... grow to the same height... my hunch is for the latter as it is more common on rocks, walls, fences and trees in chalk / limestone districts... all the polytrichum spp. prefer acid soil/substrates and Atrichum likes acid to neutral.

    The lichen looks like it could be one of the Parmelia group... the most likely candidate as it is a southern species in the UK is P. caperata... but again it is difficult to be sure... in all cases here I have gone for the most common ones for the conditions.

    Spent the day doing about half the work I hoped to do... dodging sideways showers... thank the Gods for our huge hangar to work in.... and discovered that some of the trees I NEED to move are still in the middle of a pond!!

  9. Thank you Tim for the information. I had no idea mosses and lichens were so difficult to identify. Of course, to me whether moss or lichen, they all look alike!


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