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18 types of moss

Acrocarpous Moss

Acrocarpous mosses usually grow upright and don’t have branching stems, almost like miniature conifer trees. In addition, cells in the leaves of these mosses are usually square-shaped. Finally, their spore-producing parts, the sporophytes, arise at the end of the stems.

Pleurocarpous Moss

Pleurocarpous mosses have branching stems and often create dense mats on the ground. Their cells are typically very long compared to acrocarpous moss. Finally, their sporophytes arise from the side of stems.

where you can find it?

No matter where in the world you are, there is a good chance moss is growing nearby. Moss is usually always found where there is some moisture because they dry out relatively easily. They also love to grow on poor substrate, so you often see them on exposed rock or disturbed soil. They can even remove impurities from soil! Moss is most commonly found in cool, humid environments like rainforests and near running water.

Lichen often gets mistaken as being moss. One type of which is reindeer moss, also called reindeer lichen. It forms puffy, light green mats that look just like moss. 

Irish Moss is as imposter. It’s actually a type of red algae


Common Tamarisk Moss


Scientific name: Thuidium tamariscinum

Type: Acrocarpous

Color: Bright yellow-green leaves. 

Distribution: Common in Europe, but can also be found in North America and Japan. 

Characteristics: This moss has delicate, lacy leaves. Its appearance resembles a fern more than a moss. 

Tousled Treasure


Scientific name: Callicladium haldanianum

Type: Pleurocarpous

Color: Light green and golden brown.

Distribution: Eastern US and Canada and northern Europe.

Characteristics: This moss grows as flat, extensive carpets. It often covers the forest floor or fallen logs.  

Hoary Fringe-Moss


Scientific name: Racomitrium canescens

Type: Acrocarpous

Color: Dark green to light brown when dry. 

Distribution: Common in the US, Canada, and Europe. 

Characteristics: This moss is incredibly drought tolerant and grows best on well-drained, sandy soil. It forms dense mats with upright, star-shaped stems. 

Juniper Moss


Scientific name: Polytrichum juniperinum

Type: Acrocarpous

Color: Green with a distinct red-brown tip.

Distribution: This species grows on every continent on Earth!

Characteristics: This moss has upright stems that look like trees. It grows well in exposed locations. 

Warnstorf’s Peat Moss


Scientific name: Sphagnum warnstorfii

Color: Bright, vivid crimson red. 

Distribution: Common in boreal regions of the US, Canada, and Europe.

Characteristics: Like other peat mosses, this species is found in bogs and fens. The bright red color is unmistakable for any other moss. 

Common Peat Moss


Scientific name: Sphagnum centrale

Color: Yellow-green leaves that dry into a nice golden-brown.

Distribution: Found in the northern US, Canada, and Europe. 

Characteristics: Common peat moss is one of many species of sphagnum moss. It grows exclusively in swamps and bogs. So, it does well in nutrient-poor, acidic soil. It holds moisture well and is commonly used in horticulture or in terrariums.

Fern Moss


Scientific name: Thuidium delicatulum

Type: Pleurocarpous

Color: Bright green and light brown. 

Distribution: Common in North and South America and Europe. 

Characteristics: As its name suggests, fern moss has leaves that look a bit like ferns. It grows fast and is commonly used in floral arrangements when dry. 

Common Haircap Moss


Scientific name: Polytrichum commune

Type: Acrocarpous

Color: Leaves are pale to bright green, while stems are reddish-brown.

Distribution: Very common across the western hemisphere.

Characteristics: This appealing moss is easy to recognize. It has wiry foliage all along the stems. When viewed from above, each stem looks like a star with lots of points. This moss can grow in virtually any habitat. 

Baby Tooth Moss


Scientific name: Plagiomnium cuspidatum

Type: Pleurocarpous

Color: Light green leaves and stems with dark orange spore-producing stalks. 

Distribution: Found across North America, Africa, and Asia.

Characteristics: This is a short-lived moss. Stems are sprawling and flat, with conspicuous midribs on the leaves.

American Tree Moss


Scientific name:  Climacium americanum

Type: Pleurocarpous

Color: Leaves start out pale green and turn a dark olive green color when mature. Stems are reddish-brown.

Distribution: Widespread across the eastern US and Canada. It grows in a variety of habitats including woodlands, wetlands, swamps, and rocky soil. 

Characteristics: As its name suggests, this moss is densely branched and resembles a tiny forest of trees.

Big Shaggy-Moss


Scientific name: Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus

Type: Pleurocarpous

Color: Dark green leaves and reddish-brown stems. 

Distribution: Common across temperate Northern Hemisphere.

Characteristics: The name is very appropriate due to the messy, unkempt look of this moss. The stems are long with variable, fuzzy leaves. 

Star Moss


Scientific name: Tortula ruralis

Type: Acrocarpous

Color: Dark green to yellow-green. 

Distribution: Widespread across North America and Europe. 

Characteristics: Also called screw moss, this species gets its name from its star-shaped stem. It’s commonly used in terrariums and vivariums, being that it’s relatively easy to grow. 

Heath Star Moss


Scientific name: Campylopus introflexus

Type: Acrocarpous

Color: Yellowish to olive green.

Distribution: Native to temperate South America, Africa, and Australia. Introduced in Europe and western North America. 

Characteristics: This moss spreads extensively, creating dense carpets that grow fast. The stems are slender with silver-colored tips.

Ribbed Bog Moss


Scientific name: Aulacomnium palustre

Type: Acrocarpous

Color: Yellow-green leaves and orange-brown stems. 

Distribution: Common across the Northern Hemisphere including the Arctic, and occasionally in South America, Australia, and New Zealand. 

Characteristics: As its name suggests, this is a common moss in bogs and wetlands. Its upright stems get narrower towards the tips. 

Glittering Wood Moss


Scientific name: Hylocomium splendens

Type: Pleurocarpous

Color: Olive green leaves and a reddish stem.

Distribution: Northern Hemisphere temperate and boreal forests. 

Characteristics: This moss shimmers in the light and turns brown in the fall. Its feathery stems and leaves can grow to be up to 20 cm long,

Common Smoothcap Moss


Scientific name: Atrichum undulatum

Type: Acrocarpous

Color: Dark grey-green with a silver shine.

Distribution: Common across Europe, North America, and Japan.

Characteristics: This moss has star-shaped stems with long, pointy leaves. Also known as Catherine’s moss. 

Dwarf Haircap Moss


Scientific name: Pogonatum aloides

Type: Acrocarpous

Color: Reddish-green leaves and a red stem. 

Distribution: Native to Europe.

Characteristics: This short moss has leaves that grow in a rosette formation, resembling tiny aloe plants. The tips are tinged with a reddish-brown color. 

Rigid Beard Moss


Scientific name: Didymodon rigidulus

Type: Acrocarpous

Color: Dark orange-green leaves that turn brown with age. 

Distribution: Native to North and South America and Europe. 

Characteristics: This moss has tiny leaves that clump together and form dense, stringy mats. It mostly grows on rocks, sidewalks, and other exposed stone

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