It’s Mating Season for Mosses Too

Posted by Sandi

We’re starting to see welcome signs of Spring here on Orcas. Days are longer, trees are budding and blooming, birds are singing. And if you’re a moss enthusiast, there’s a whole world of miniature lovemaking taking place.

Moss sporophytes on Orcas Island

After the sperm fertilizes the egg, a sporophyte emerges. The tip is a capsule filled with spores which will disperse to create new colonies.

Like many plants, mosses reproduce both sexually and asexually. Unlike seed plants, though, mosses have flagellated sperm that must swim to fertilize an egg. That’s one reason they can only survive in moist environments. In early spring, raindrops splash sperm from male plants to female plants. The sperm follow a trail of enticing chemicals in a film of water down a love canal to the egg chamber and bingo, they form a zygote. This is fascinating to me!

Hidden moss sporophytes

Some sporophytes are less conspicuous

Mosses are the oldest plants on land, evolving from algae in the sea that crept onto barren rock. In fact we have mosses to thank for all life that followed: it is their colonization and decay that formed the first organic material and created a hospitable environment for subsequent plants and critters to emerge.

Moss covered rocks on Orcas Island

Moss is a major part of our island landscape

Mosses are both delicate and hardy; they’ve survived ice ages and several mass extinctions. They’re  ecologically important and sensually wonderful in so many ways, helping to create the serene green lushness the Northwest is famous for. They lie dormant during our summer drought and faithfully spring back to life when the rains return. Being surrounded by a soft green blanket of moss instead of traffic and pavement is just one more reason I love living on Orcas Island. Let the mating begin!

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty  – we’ll help you find your way home.

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One Response to It’s Mating Season for Mosses Too

  1. Update: I drive by this cool rock with a tapestry of moss that changes throughout the seasons. The “orange hair” caught my eye recently and I had to pull over to take a closer look.