Monday, April 18, 2011

More Flying Moss

I’m always watching for something that looks out of place, because that often leads to interesting discoveries. When I caught sight of this dark patch, I thought it was evidence that errant cows had paid a visit to Blue Jay Barrens. I average a visit from either cows or horses about twice in every three years. Usually it happens at the wettest time of year and they concentrate their activities on the yard and walking trails. The deep tracks remain through the summer to aggravate me whenever I walk or mow. Horses visited a few weeks ago, so it seemed unfair that I also had to deal with cows.
Closer examination revealed that I had actually seen a clump of moss masquerading as a cow plop. Actually, I’ll have to admit that the moss was innocently laying there being moss and I was the one who assigned a false identification. In my defense I’ll have to stipulate that the moss was looking uncharacteristically dark and bore a patterning that was definitely unmosslike. What is that blue-gray mottling on the moss clump?
Decomposing leaf fragments. This is not the way a leaf looks when it decomposes on the surface of the soil. This is what you expect a leaf to look like when it has been decomposing in a buried condition. So how was it buried and why is it clinging to the top of this clump of moss?
Knowing what the answer had to be, I flipped the moss over and discovered the true top of the moss clump. The leaf had spent its time decomposing beneath the moss clump, but was now exposed.
The brown patches in the moss along with the fungus strands growing beneath the clump, lead me to believe that the moss has resided here for a couple of months. Apparently this is another case of flying moss. I’ve always thought of moss as something stationary. Now, within a matter of a few weeks, I’ve discovered two cases of moss colonies moving to new locations.
This clump has reversed its growth direction and is now growing upward from what was once the bottom side. I’m still wondering about that leaf. If a leaf fell to the ground, would it remain intact long enough for moss to overgrow it? Not likely. I believe that this moss may be a frequent flier that, on an earlier flight, landed atop the leaf. The leaf began its decomposition beneath the moss clump and then ended up on the upper surface after the last move. Maybe moss is like the tumbleweed that frequently changes location through the power of the wind. I’ll have to start calling it tumblemoss.


  1. I know I can get my science lesson here on your blog. Tumblemoss is pretty cool.

  2. Hi, Lois. I don't remember science lessons being like this when I was in school.