Friday, March 25, 2011

Moss Archipelago

When people think of forces that change the landscape, they usually think of large areas and unstoppable powers such as glaciers and volcanoes. I have to admit that Blue Jay Barrens was subject to that type of force millions of years ago in the form of a meteor strike, but when I think of landscape changing forces, I usually narrow my focus to those things that are confined within my property boundaries. I’m interested in how seemingly small factors determine the developmental course of an area.

Here we have a lumpy patch of moss. You might imagine that this is the result of mosses growing on lumpy ground. In this particular case, that’s not what happened. This is a rather level area that holds a lot of water during the winter and spring. Several factors have combined to produce this particular lumpy effect.

It all began when a cedar tree fell over onto a patch of grasses and blocked the sunlight. The grasses died and moss rapidly grew to carpet the area. The root and dead leaf masses of some of the grass clumps gave the mosses a less saturated substrate upon which to grow. The moss growing on the clumps prospered.

Each growing season has allowed the mosses to add to the foundation upon which they were established. The result reminds me of a cluster of South Seas Islands. Standing water seems to inhibit the moss growth, but growing conditions on the steep sided islands are ideal and the mosses flourish.

This is all because a tree fell. I always target sites of change as places that might hold something that I have not yet seen. Usually I’m rewarded and I embrace these areas as one more source of diversity for Blue Jay Barrens.


  1. Very interesting, once again. :) It's fun to walk in the woods and learn from you.

  2. HI Steve...Very interesting of my favorites many different kind!!
    I sometimes wonder what happens when a patch of moss grows right in my flower gardens!!
    I don't wonder however where my lumpiness comes from....It is because of "fallen food" into my mouth. lol

  3. Interesting stuff- I'll have to look for this in my woods. After all, I feel like I live in the Land of Moss.

  4. Thanks, Lois.

    Hi, grammie g. I'm amazed at how many different places I find moss growing. My wife says that I should tactfully avoid the subject of someones lumpiness, so I won't mention it.

    Hi, Mike. Some day I'll have to learn how to identify all of the moss species that grow around here.