How Is Moss Formed?

Written by emily pate
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How Is Moss Formed?
Moss grows in shady, moist areas. (Thomas Northcut/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Moss is a member of the Bryophyta plant phylum. Moss is characterised by its lack of a developed vascular system. Despite moss's simplistic biological characteristics, it covers an estimated 1 per cent of the earth's surface, equal to half the United States, according to Ohio State University Horticulture and Crop Science's Michael Knee.

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Formation and Reproduction

Moss is a terrestrial plant, but since it has no vascular system, it absorbs water directly from the soil. Its rhizoids are rootlike structures, and it also has a structure resembling a leaf, but neither structure is a complete. When spores from another moss plant come into contact with rain or water, its spores form into new plants. Since the spores are so tiny, it needs only the tiniest plant for them to reproduce.

Growing Conditions

Moss is much less complex than other plants and reproduce using spores, which are tiny and found in the ground, air, trees and even in buildings under certain conditions. Moss typically needs large amounts of water to form and reproduce. They can tolerate dry spells or even drying out themselves. Mosses like sphagnum hold large amounts of water in the leaves' dead cells. Mosses are sensitive to copper salts and have trouble forming in this kind of soil. Moss grows especially well in moist, shady areas.

Effects of Moss Formation

Moss can grow without any problems, but it can make pavement slippery. Gardeners sometimes worry about moss choking out tiny seedlings, like roses, for instance. After weed killing, moss may come back vigorously, attempting to re-establish itself before the rest of the plants. Tilling the soil once a season helps prevent the moss from choking surrounding seedlings. In extreme cases, moss may break through tile roofs and fill up gutters, particularly in climates with very high humidity.

How You Can Form Your Own Moss

Ancient Japanese agriculture lauded moss for its aesthetically pleasing carpeting growth habit. It is planted for its serene and calming look. Create your own by blending equal parts water and buttermilk with a moss sample -- dead or living. When the mixture is milkshake-thick, brush it onto surfaces you'd like to grow the moss on. Rocks, fences, pots, trees and pavement provide spots for the eye-catching burst of green carpet the plant produces.

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