Marvelous Mosses


I went for a hike yesterday. Just a little one. I felt guilty for taking the time to do it. 

So there’s a metropark near my work. The Dayton area, which I call home, has something like 14 parks and conservancy areas in it. Next summer I’d like to hit all of them, but I digress. Right now, just finding the daylight on a not-below-freezing day to get into the one that is literally down the street from work is a challenge, let alone getting to the ones a half hour or more away from me. Ah, urban sprawl… Last summer I was going for a lot of hikes and walks between work and home. Better than a gym membership for me, and certainly cheaper. However, my commute was (depending on traffic on the new commute) 30 minutes to an hour shorter than the new commute. There’s my hiking time, right there. So for me to take that time, now, is taking away from my family. Hence the feeling guilty. 

I needed it, though. Oh, I needed it. I didn’t fully realize until I stepped away from the car after checking my gear and sending my check-in message, how much this would relax me. I’d told my check-in that I was only going to take 30 minutes. Honestly that’s about all the daylight I had, anyway. But for those few moments to walk in the quiet woods, with no other humans in sight, taking photos of mosses and occasionally lying on my belly to stabilize my lens and admire some fungi: bliss. I love my family very much, but sometimes I have to do a bit of self-care. For me, that’s always been retreating into the woods as far as I could get. 

Galerina autumnalis are deadly poison, but not as glam as their shared toxin relatives the Amanitas.
Mosses add color to the gray winter woods of Ohio.

I got a moss identification book for Christmas, so I was focused on mosses on this walk. I packed my macro lens, and wasn’t trying to make this ‘exercise’ but rather a ramble through the forest looking at the different kinds of bryophytes and lichens I could discover. There are more than you might think. Not as many as in the Pacific Rainforest of my childhood, or the time my mother and I counted 22 different species of moss and lichen on our homestead in Interior Alaska. But this part of Ohio is moist, and winters here are more damp and rainy than they are cold and snowy. Very moss friendly environment. 

Tiny little moss leaves half hidden under the brown fallen leaves of trees.
Proper identification of mosses really requires a microscope, which I do not currently have. However, some can be sussed out at the very least to the genera level simply based on their morphology. Or, like the Sabre-tooth moss (Plagiomnium ciliare) above, the distinctively large leaves for moss, with pointed tips. 
Other mosses require a closer look at their sporangium to identify them. The tiny ‘gnome hats’ here are operculum that will pop off to release the spores when ripe.

That photo isn’t sideways, by the way, it’s just moss growing up the side of a stump! Easier to photograph than bending over to capture the image on the ground level.

Mossy logs are always so soft and inviting looking. But very damp to the seat of the pants if you succumb to their lure.
Lichens are a whole ‘nother thing. I’m debating a good book on their identification, next.

2 thoughts on “Marvelous Mosses

  1. When I first read that subject and the opening sentence, I was wondering how you had managed to find a moose that far south. *laugh*

    Some very nice shots here.

    On the getting away for just a bit, I completely understand. There is an “oasis” across the street from my office (a small creek). It was nice to be able to take my lunch break, sit on a log and just watch the water. But last year they built a townhome community between here and there, so it is too hard to reach now.

Comments are closed.