Thursday, 26 February 2015

A mossy moment

The woods are still beautiful at this time of year, but they do feel a little bare. There are no leaves on the trees, no flowers and no fungi, but look closely and you'll see that now is the perfect time to see the small but beautifully formed mosses that love the weather at this time of year. In another couple of moths it will be too dry and warm for them and they'll be lost in the spring growth, so now is definitely their moment!

The back of Whiteleaf Hill, with Pulpit Hill (and the hill fort) in the distance
A carpet of moss under the beech trees

 I found a little bit of candlsnuff fungus growing through the moss on some logs

This tree trunk reminded me of a Dr Who monster

Mossy spider legs
Moss is so much more than the fuzzy green stuff that annoys people when they find it growing in their lawn. It provides food and shelter for lots of minibeasts and is used as nesting material by many birds. It has been used by humans as a food wrapping and tons of it was used for wound dressings in the First World War. It's also a great indicator of air quality due to its sensitivity to environmental change.

Walking through the woods at the back of Whiteleaf Hill (one of my favourite autumn fungi woods), I was amazed at the amount of moss that was around and the variety of shapes, sizes and colours that I found. I'm definitely not an expert, but I've had a go at naming some of them (but I might be wrong).

Spiral extinguisher moss

Rambling tail moss growing on a flint - I loved the way this one had wound
round the flint and was hanging on tight!

From the other side it looked like eyes

Bank haircap

Big shaggy moss - yes, that really is what it's called

Common feather moss

Common haircap - covered in lots of pointy capsules

Common pocket moss

Common smoothcap

Common tamarisk moss

Featherwort - a type of leafy liverwort

Neat feather moss
I also noticed that many of the plants are really starting to grow now . They'll soon take over, so enjoy the mosses while you can.

Herb Robert

Not sure what this one is, but I'll keep an eye out for it flowering

Viper's-bugloss (maybe?)

Lords and ladies (aka wild arum)


  1. I am learning a lot about mosses thanks to you. That stone looks like E.T (well a skull version of ET any way) lol.

  2. You're right, it does look like ET. I said that to BMG and she just looked blankly at me! We must be getting old!!

    1. She must watch ET. Every child should see it at least once. Its a classic

    2. I know - even I was surprised we'd never watched it with her. I guess it's not on TV very often these day.