top of page
  • Writer's pictureIsaac yelchin

This is a mosst read!

As bipedal primates, we exist in a world far above ground. Rarely do we stop to inspect what is below our feet. In my opinion, this is a calamity, as we ignore and step all over this incredible world. If you take a second to bend down and look, you will see there is much you have been missing. Most life on land lives in this realm, the insects, salamanders, and quail to name a few.

There is one type of plant that holds the aesthetic crown of this miniature world. Bryophyta, or mosses. They have been coating the damp portions of our earth for the last 470 million years. Often these mosses only grow to 1 cm in height. If it says much about our propensity to ignore the ecosystem under our soles, even giant stegosaurus and towering woolly mammoths would stop, look down, and feed on mosses.

There are some of us however, who are inclined to shift perspective. Who relish in the tiny world below. Since we must all stay at home during this pandemic, there is time to focus on things at home. If you are into gardening or want to see if your thumb is green, mosses may just be your ticket.

Take a look at this fantastic article about how to incorporate 26 species of moss in your garden. Not only can you use moss to spice up the look of your garden, but certain types can have other benefits. The spongy nature of sphagnum moss in particular, soaks up and holds water. In the dry southern California climate this moss could be instrumental in keeping your soil moist for your other plants, beneficial insects, and amphibians that may visit.

While you probably won’t be doing this in your own garden, you can squeeze the water out of sphagnum moss and drink it. This moss is acidic, and will do some work to purify that water. Keep this in mind if you are ever lost in the wilderness without iodine or a filtration system.

There are some mosses that can be purchased, but those options are quite limited. The best way to get moss for your at home project is to take to the outdoors and find some yourself. Mosses usually love speckled sunlight and high humidity. Check the rocks along the edge of a forest lined stream, or a felled tree by a lake. You may want to study up on the types of mosses around. Here is a great link for California mosses:

How you collect and have them grow can be different for each species of moss, so I recommend research and preparation before you go exploring. You can check out Inaturalist as well, to see where mosses have been observed in your area. Remember, that the natural world has limited supply, so only take what you need and are going to use.

Good luck moss hunters! Below is a picture of lichen, which can be easily confused with moss as they tend to grow in similar areas. Pay close attention when in the field.

Isaac Yelchin is foremost a herpetologist. He studies lizards, frogs, newts, and the like. Specifically, he spends all day and night thinking about what it is like to be an animal. What are the animals thinking about? What is their perspective? When he should be working, he sits and stares at his pet lizard asking himself these questions.

18 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page