Up on the Roof: A Place where Moss Thrives

There is an entire industry dedicated to irradiating moss. Admittedly moss can become an annoyance in gardens and on roofs.

But what would a walk through the forest be without rich green mosses covering the ground, rotten logs, live trees and rocks? In the Pacific Northwest, mosses help to define the forest setting, and bring a lovely softness to these shady areas throughout the year.

Brachythecium rutabulum

Personally, I like to encourage moss growth on the rocks lining the ponds and the landscaping around my house.

Not long ago I realized that I didn’t know the name of a single species of moss. That wouldn’t be so bad if I lived in a desert, but I have spent most of my life in one of the richest moss growing areas of the country. So I decided to do several post focusing on mosses.

Tortula muralis

Why write about something I know nothing about. One reason is because I seem to learn a great while going through the process of writing a blog, and second, I only need to take a short walk in my back yard to discover dozens of varieties of moss.

My goal here is to find and photograph the moss species I come across, and hopefully identify a few of them. I have decided to divide the posts according to the substrates the mosses are growing on.

Grimmia pulvinata

This first post features the mosses that I found on the roof of the shed in my back yard.

Leafy Liverwort

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16 Responses to Up on the Roof: A Place where Moss Thrives

  1. seekraz says:

    I think they’re beautiful. I used to play under cherry trees in our yard in Germany when I was a kid…used to use the moss to cover my little stick houses…anyway. 🙂

    Thank you for the post…and the beautiful photos.


  2. I’m not sure that moss on a roof is a good thing, but I like your photos. Congratulations on the successful identifications! I know how hard you worked to accomplish what might seem an easy task.


  3. Finn Holding says:

    Hello Rick, very nice photographs. I like mosses everywhere, they turn boring grey rooves into a nature reserve, and they make lawns soft and springy, which I think is a good thing. Nice project to photograph all your local varieties. As with lichens, they tend to be overlooked.


  4. Bruce Hagen says:

    Rick, great photos and text. I too know little about mosses, they usually are underfoot or just out of sight. I spend most of my time looking up at trees—the main subject of most of my work. Occasionally, I marvel at the smaller plants like moss. In the inland areas of Sonoma County, they are typically found in moister, shady sites and on the north sides of trees in wooded areas, and along drainages. Along the coastal mountain ranges, they are a common inhabitant of the coast redwood/fir forests that grow there. The erect structures seen in the image of Tortula muralis bear spores for reproduction.


  5. Lovely! Quite a few different ones there – and all so wonderfully green…
    The moss from our garage roof usually ends up in the yard and I’m not sure if it’s caused by the wind or the blackbirds poking around for insects…


  6. Beautiful images. The Grimmia pulvinata looks like a hedgehog! 🙂

    My mother is a moss thief, and goes to areas of the woods that are not her property and literally steals moss to transplant onto the erratics in her yard. She has been very successful at this. I joke that I will one day be called by the police in Maine to come post bail for my mother, who has been arrested for her thievery. She has become quite involved in identifying the various types of moss, as well.


  7. Anonymous says:

    Dear Rick
    thank you so much for the pictures and the information. I am starting to grow moss in various bonsai pots and wanted to know the difference in the types. Your pictures help a great deal. I too have many mosses in my garden, and realised I know about my plants and trees and but have never studied the poor old moss.Once again thank you.


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