Updated: Mar 30
Most people overlook the wonderful world of moss. Flowering plants, trees and shrubs are usually seen as more beautiful, and more likely to be noticed in gardens and on hikes. But if you get real close, you'll find that every type of moss is uniquely beautiful and incredibly interesting in their own ways.
This article will challenge you to find the most common types of moss on your next hike. Can you find them all? But first, let's explore some fun facts about moss to get you hyped for your journey!
FUN FACTS ABOUT MOSS
Moss is one of the first types of plants to adapt to dry land.
There are over 12,000 different species of moss, each with their own unique looks and characteristics.
Mosses do not absorb water through their roots. In fact, they don't have roots at all! Instead, they absorb water and nutrients from the atmosphere through their leaves. This is why they can be seen thriving on surfaces without soil like trees, rocks, and in between cracks on walls sidewalks.
Unlike flowering plants, moss does not need to be pollinated to reproduce, and does not grow from seeds. Instead, they reproduce by themselves, and grow from spores that they spread when they mature.
Mosses are able to grow on surfaces of all angles like vertical walls, and upside on ceilings or under rocky outcrops. This is thanks to rhizoids: tiny, sticky brown fibers that anchor the leafy tops to any surface. Up close, they look like tiny roots, but do not absorb water.
Moss plays a huge role in keeping our environment healthy. They take in massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and help stabilize soil structure which helps prevent floods and landslides!
FIND THE 10 MOST COMMON TYPES OF MOSS
Chance to win a free IDEA kit: Send us pictures of three types of moss listed below for your chance to win a free craft kit from our shop! You can send them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Instagram @ideacollective.learning.
The leaves on this type of moss look like stars... or tiny juniper tree branches, hence the name! Juniper moss does not grow well on wet soil, making this more likely to grow in dry regions, and on surfaces that do not retain much water like on tree trunks, logs, and rocks.
Don't you just want to lay on that? Pincushion moss grows in round, raised mounds that are soft and velvety in texture. They have adapted to grow in any kind of environment, requiring little to no sunlight, and very little water. It will flatten if it goes a while without water, but it'll bounce right back into its pillowy shape and regain its bright green colors with the first rainfall.
WARNSTORF'S PEAT MOSS
In the shade, Warnstoff's peat moss is bright green. But in the sunlight, it turns crimson red! This has made it a favorite of gardeners that use it as striking carpeting between plants in their garden. It's especially fun to see its dramatic fiery colors in the snow during winter time. Warnstoff's moss grows best in wetter environments like swamps and bogs.
WATER SCREW MOSS
The yellowish-green leaves of water screw moss unfurl when wet, and fold in on themselves when dry. It most often can be seen hanging out on trees, rocks and walls. It also likes to grow along rivers and streams, but they're harder to spot in these areas, as they are typically covered with silt.
GLITTERING WOOD MOSS
The shiny, feathery leaves of glittering wood moss are hard to miss. Each frond can grow up to 20cm long, which is longer than most! It's generally yellow and reddish-green, and turn brown in the fall. Fun fact: you can tell the age of a patch of wood moss by counting the "steps" on one of the branches, as a new one grows each year!
Plume moss is often seen growing on tree bark, but also makes soft, dense coverings on forest floors. It's name comes from its clumps of bright green feathers. Some varieties have orange stems, while others have hints of yellow, and still others are completely green.
This wormy type of moss certainly stands out in any outdoor setting. It's also unique for turning light green in the shade, and brown when in full sun! It can also grow in any kind of soil, wet, rocky, or anything in between, making it an easy and striking addition to any garden or outdoor area.
BABY TOOTH MOSS
It doesn't look much like baby teeth, so where does its name come from? Maybe because this type of moss is short lived, and reproduces by growing stalks that open at the end of its life cycle to produce spores. This type of moss is short lived, and likes to grow on well-drained surfaces in cool temperatures.
COMMON SMOOTH CAP MOSS
This moss has long, star-shaped leaves and stems. It is dark green with silvery highlights, and turns brown as it ages. Smooth cap moss is one of the most common plants on the planet, especially in areas with high humidity and consistently heavy rainfall.
RIGID BEARD MOSS
It's easy to see how this moss got its name. It looks a lot like green stubble, right? And the tiny green stems make it feel like a soft, well-trimmed beard. You've probably seen it a thousand times growing in between the cracks of well-shaded sidewalks, pavement, walls and natural rocks. It develops little oval-shaped capsules in the spring that spread spores to reproduce!
MORE FUN IDEAS FOR OUTDOOR ADVENTURES
Have you checked out our variety of IDEA craft and activity kits? They're full of fun, creative and educational activities that inspire kids to learn about the natural world through art and creative play.
Check out our IDEA Corner blog for more fun ideas for your next hike. Now get out there, and see what you can find!