I do not know what 'moss' stands for in the proverb, but if it stood for useful knowledge... I gathered more moss by rolling than I ever did at school.

ERNEST SHACKLETON (1874-1922)

MOSS

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Moss 


Mosses were one of first plants on earth, evolving from lichens. Moss doesn’t have roots or vascular systems like other plants. Moss can grow in places where other plants can’t such as rocks or tree trunks.
They are anchored by rhizoids, which are thread like structures but they do not absorb water or nutrients through them. They are indicators of pollution as they can grow only in clean environments.

The Life cycle of moss consists of two generations: sporophyte and gametophyte. The sporophyte generation produces spores that are spread by wind. Spores develop into the gametophyte generation which produces male and female sex organs and ensures sexual reproduction. Moss usually lives near the water because male and female reproductive cells travel to each other and merge in water. 

There are more than 14,000 species of moss. The world’s rarest is Derbyshire feather moss, which only grows on a single yard of riverbed in the Peak District. Its exact location is kept secret.


 

Emuscation is the removing of moss from a tree-trunk.

Moss Extinction


It’s thought that when moss arrived on land, 470 million years ago, it caused a new ice age and a mass extinction in the oceans – the Ordovician-Silurian extinction.

Mosses, and other similarly simple plants, ate away at rocks, altering them chemically so they reacted with carbon dioxide and sucked it from the atmosphere. Temperatures plummeted. The process also released phosphorus into the ocean, leading to huge blooms of algae. When bacteria devoured the algae they used up almost all the oxygen, meaning almost everything else died. The whole process took 35 million years.

It’s thought that when moss arrived on land, 470 million years ago, it caused a new ice age and a mass extinction in the oceans – the Ordovician-Silurian extinction.

Mosses, and other similarly simple plants, ate away at rocks, altering them chemically so they reacted with carbon dioxide and sucked it from the atmosphere. Temperatures plummeted. The process also released phosphorus into the ocean, leading to huge blooms of algae. When bacteria devoured the algae they used up almost all the oxygen, meaning almost everything else died. The whole process took 35 million years.

On Earth, moss filaments normally grow in an unruly fashion, but in Space, they form a distinctive clockwise spiral.

Medical Moss


One particular moss, sphagnum, has been used to treat wounds throughout history, because of a unique property – it can absorb 20-30 times its own weight in liquid. When millions of bandages were suddenly needed during WWI, sphagnum moss was the perfect thing. It could absorb twice as much liquid as cotton, it was cheaper, and it naturally contained antiseptic iodine. Sphagnum was harvested from the UK’s peat bogs by bands of amateurs – by the end of 1916, a million moss dressings were being made every month.

Sphagnum has been used by Eskimos to treat nappy rash, by the Vikings as toilet paper, and to absorb oil in spills. It’s still used in Scandinavia to pack fish.

DAWN FRENCH

If I had been around when Rubens was painting, I would have been revered as a fabulous model. Kate Moss? Well, she would have been the paintbrush.

Some Antarctic mosses can come back to life after being completely frozen for 1,500 years.

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Tardigrades are also known as 'water bears' or 'moss piglets'.

'Reindeer moss', eaten by caribou as well as reindeer, grows in the Arctic and is a lichen, not a moss.

In rural UK, Fontinalis antipyretica (against fire) was traditionally used to extinguish fires as it retains large volumes of water.