Juniper moss - Professor Beaker

Juniper moss

 
Andy's Northern Ontario Wildflower Page

Mosses and Lichens

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." - Albert Einstein

 

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Illustrated on this page are some northern Ontario mosses and lichens that occur on soils, in forests, and on rocks.

For a more comprehensive list and description, see:

http://www.borealforest.org/lichens.htm

Mosses and lichens are among the first plants to grown on bare soil and dry rocks. Mosses thrive in humid climates and prefer moist, shady places, and grow on trees, rocks, rotten wood, and soil. Peat mosses accumulate in deposits that may be several hundred metres thick.


What is a moss?
Habitat
Biology of Moss
Moss list
Lichen list

What is a lichen?

Lichens are not a single plant.

A lichen is a complex group of plants depending on a close association between a FUNGUS and ALGAE - a symbiotic relationship.

A lichen consists of an upper part of interwoven fibres related to the fungus and a layer of more loosely fibrous structures related to the fungus that surrounds the algae.

The algae can carry out photosynthesis and feed the fungi. The fibrous structures that make up the fungi adds support to the algae and keeps the algae from drying out.

Language of Flowers: Lichen means "dejection" and "solitude". Source

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What is a moss?

A moss is a class (Musci) of plants without flowers or roots. Moss usually grows as low, dense, carpet-like masses on tree trunks, rocks, or moist ground.

Language of Flowers: Moss means "maternal love". Source

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Habitat:

Mosses create organic matter and make the local habitat more suitable for seed-bearing plants. Mosses thrive in humid climates and prefer moist, shady places, and grow on trees, rocks, rotten wood, and soil. Peat mosses accumulate in deposits that may be several hundred metres thick.

On rocky outcrops, mosses may grow along cracks or fractures in the rock. The crack is a trap for small amounts of soils and water naturally seeps along these cracks. The soil and water provide essential nutrients for the moss.

 Click here for more habitat information:

Moss grows along a crack in a rock outcrop because the crack is a channel for ground water and a trap for small amounts of soil.  Both the water and soil are required to support the moss.

Location: Burwash
Date: April 22,2001

Moss growing along a crack in a rock.

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Biology of Moss:

Mosses have a stem covered with many tiny leaves. Mosses do not have true roots to absorb water and mineral nutrients. They do not circulate sap. Mosses absorbed water through their leaves and stem like a sponge.

Mosses have two phases in their life cycle. The first phase is a green moss plant called the gametophyte. The male and female gametes produce the second phase, called the sporophyte. The top of the sporophyte is a stalk filled with spores. When the spores mature, the stalk bends, and a tiny lid opens. The spores are released and blow away to start new plants when the air is dry.

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Moss List:

Lichen List:

Moss

Oin_cushion_moss

Pin cushion moss:

Form: Hummock-forming moss.

Colour: Bluish-green.

Height: 3 to 9 cm tall and 30 to 50 cm in diameter.

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Fire moss:

Form: Mats or tufts.

Colour: Dirty green, yellowish-brown or reddish.

Height: 1.8 to 2 mm long leaves.

Fruiting bodies: Cylindrical capsules, 2 to 4 mm long, stalks purplish red, 8 to 30 mm long (illustrated in image).

Location: Burwash
Date: April 18, 2010

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fire_moss

Fire moss, Burwash Ontario

Fire moss in fruit over a disturbed area of sandy soil.  The red colour comes from the red stalk of the fruit stem.

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plume moss, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon.

Plume moss:

Form: Distinctive feather- or plume-like shape; grows in patches.

Colour: Bright green to gold.

Height: 1 to 11 cm tall - image is about 1 cm tall, taken in early spring.

Leaves: Egg-shaped to triangular.

Fruiting bodies: Oblong to cylindrical capsules, curved, 2 to 3 mm long, horizontal; stalks reddish-brown, 25 to 45 mm long.

Location: Burwash
Date: October 19, 2003

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Detailed view of small Plume moss growing on a rock. The length of each plume is about 2.5 cm.

Location: Burwash
Date: October 19, 2003

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Plume moss, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon.

Ribbed bog moss:

Form: Erect stems with woolly reddish-brown to creamy covering tip; tuffs or clusters; stems covered with reddish-brown hairs.

Colour: Yellowish-green to yellowish-brown.

Height: 3 to 9 cm tall.

Leaves: Egg-shaped to lance-shaped, blunt or pointed tip.

Fruiting bodies: Cylindrical capsules, curved, leaning or horizontal to erect, reddish-brown, 2 to 3 mm long.

See image of fruit below.

Ribbed bog moss

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ribbed_bog_moss_fruit

Ribbed bog moss:

Fruit - taken April 2, 2000.

Common brown peat moss:

Form: Dense brownish green, rounded, cushion-like hummocks.

Colour: Dark- to rust-brown, occasionally greenish.

Height: Stems up to 10 cm tall.

Leaves: Stem leaves are tongue-shaped with rounded tip.

Fruiting bodies: Not common; dark brown to black capsules.

common_brown_peat_moss

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Common peat moss, Burwash, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon.

Common peat moss

Form: Forms light green carpets in cedar or tamarack swamps.

Colour: Light green to slightly yellow.

Leaves: Stem leaves are many branched; flat star-shaped tips.

Fruiting Body: Uncommon

Habitat: Wet conifer or hardwood swamps.

Location: Bog on west side of McVittie Road, close to intersection with Secord Road
Date: October 5, 2003

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shaggy_peat_moss

Shaggy peat moss:

Form: Heads have prominent terminal buds surrounded by short, loosely clustered branches.

Colour: Bright to pale green or yellowish.

Height: Masses in wet areas.

Leaves: Stem leaves are oblong to tongue-shaped with rounded tip.

Fruiting bodies: Rounded, dark brown to black capsules on short stalks.

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Shaggy moss (electrified cat's tail moss):

Form: Wide-spreading masses.

Colour: Dark- to bright-green or yellowish-green.

Height: Up to 10 cm tall.

Leaves: Stem leaves egg- to heart-shaped, with a long tapered and pointed tip.

Fruiting bodies: Cylindrical, curved capsules, horizontal to hanging; stalks reddish-brown.

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shaggy_moss

Juniper_moss

Juniper moss

Form: Extensive mats, upward growing.

Colour: Green, bluish-green to reddish-brown.

Height: 1-13 cm.

Other: Occurs in virtually all soils, wet or dry, usually in dry open areas.

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Warnstorf's Peat Moss

Form: Forms masses or carpets and low hummocks.

Colour: Red where growing in the sun or green with red stem where growing in shade.

Height: Up to 5 cm tall.

Leaves: Branch leaves are egg-shaped to lance-shaped.

Fruiting bodies: Uncommon.

Habitat: Indicative of wet, calcium-rich (calcareous) swamps and fens.

Location: Bog on west side of Highway 69 across from Trout Lake Road
Date: October 11, 2003

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Warnstorf's peat moss, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon

Lichen

Pixie Cup, possibly False Pixie Cup (Cladonia chlorophaea)

Form: Erect cup lichen; hollow, cup-like growths. Cups are unbranched, round-toothed, and curled inward on margins.

Colour: Cups are greenish mineral-grey; brown on cup margins.

Height: Cups are 0.5 to 1.5 cm tall.

Habitat: Common on rocks, on forest floor, and most soil types, and on rotting wood; commonly found within mosses.

Location: Burwash
Date: October 19, 2003

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false pixie cup lichen, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon

Waxpaper lichen, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon.

Waxpaper lichen (Parmelia sulcata) or possibly Hammered Shield Lichen (Parmelia sulcata)

Form: Lichen with a leaf-like body; has a net-like appearance; lobes.

Colour: Grey-green colour on upper surface; undersurface is brown at the edges and black in the middle; granules on the surface are used for reproduction.

Height: Flat on surface; Up to 10 cm wide; lobes may be up to 5 mm wide.

Distinctive: Fruiting bodies are not common.

Habitat: Occurs on trees, logs, and sometimes rock. It is quite common on Poplar in the Sudbury and Burwash area.

Location: Burwash
Date: October 19, 2003.

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Treeflute lichen

Form: Lichen that grows flat on the surface of trees; dendritic shape.

Colour: Grey-coloured to light green surface.

Height: Flat on surface; Up to 20 cm wide.

Habitat: Occurs on trees and logs. It is quite common on coniferous trees in this area

Location: Burwash
Date: December 23, 2003.

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Treeflute lichen, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon

British Soldiers (Cladonia cristatella)

Form: Cup lichen with hollow clubs that lack cups.

Colour: Clubs are yellowish or grey. Tips of clubs are red.

Height: Clubs are 1 to 2 cm tall.

Distinctive: British soldiers have NO cups, unlike other cup lichens.

Interest: The little red "caps" resemble the red hats worn by British troops that were stationed in the Americas; hence, its common name "British Soldier Lichen."

Location: Paddy Creek
Date: April 20, 2003.

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British soldier moss, Burwash, copyright 2002 Andy Fyon

Woolly foam lichen, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon.

Woolly foam lichen (Stereocaulon tomentosum)

Form: Occurs as mounds or mats close to the surface of rocks; branches have a woolly coating.

Colour: Whitish t- grayish-green in colour.

Height: Mound may be up to 10 cm tall.

Habitat: Occurs on rocks, on soil, and on humus material.

Location: Secord Road area
Date: October 5, 2003.

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Reindeer lichen (Cladina rangiferina)

Form: Ascending shrub-like or mound-like shape; distinct, round stem with numerous branches.

Colour: Fibrous, ash-grey surface (Cladina rangiferina).

Distinctive feature: True reindeer lichen is ash-grey in colour. Yellow-green lichen is similar in appearance, but it yellow-green in colour.

Height: 6 to 10 cm tall.

Habitat: Occurs on rock surfaces, moist swamps, on coniferous forest floor.

Potential uses: Used in floral craft trade, although slow growth discourages large-scale production.

Location: Rocky area, west side of McVittie Road near intersection with Secord Road.
Date: October 5, 2003.

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reindeer_lichen

Yellow-green lichen, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon

Yellow-green lichen (Cladina mitis)

Form: Ascending shrub-like or mound-like shape; distinct, round stem with numerous branches.

Colour: Fibrous, greenish-yellow surface.

Distinctive feature: Yellow-green lichen is similar in appearance to Reindeer lichen, but yellow-green lichen differs in colour from the ash-grey-coloured Reindeer lichen.

Height: 6 to 10 cm tall.

Habitat: Very common on rock surfaces and less commonly moist swamps, and common on open areas of coniferous forest floor.

Potential uses: Used in floral craft trade, although slow growth discourages large-scale production.

Location: Secord Road
Date: October 5, 2003

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Comparison of Reindeer lichen (ash-grey colour) on the left and Yellow-green lichen (green colour) on the right.

Location: Secord Road
Date: October 5, 2003

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Reindeer lichen and Yellow-green lichen, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon.

Power horn lichen, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon

Bighorn cladonia or possibly Power Horn Lichen (Cladonia coniocraea)

Form: Club-shaped lichen; pointed growths that may rarely have small and irregular cups; not branched

Colour: Whitish-green to brownish.

Fruiting body: Not common.

Distinctive feature: The erect, stick- or club-shaped form is distinctive.

Height: Up to 3 cm tall.

Habitat: Occurs on moist humus, rock surfaces, rotting wood, and tree bases.

Location: West side of McVittie Road near intersection with Secord Road
Date: October 5, 2003

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Rock tripe (Umbilicaria)

Form: Resembles a leathery dark lettuce leaf, up to about  8 cm wide, attached at its centre to a rocky surface; flaky black leafy lichen; rounded form.

Colour: Black or grey.

Height: Low growing against the rocky surface.

Habitat: Common on granitic and other "acidic" rocks in open areas.

Use: Human consumption of lichen is not easy because of the acids and other compounds. However, caribou and elk eat lichens.

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Rock tripe, Burwash Ontario, copyright 2009 Andy Fyon, www.ontariowildflower.com

Sunburst lichen, Thunder Bay, Copyright 2002 Andy Fyon.

Sunburst lichen (Xanthoria elegans)

Form: Resembles a puckered surface; grows in concentric zones outward.

Colour: Orange.

Height: Low growing against the rocky surface.

Interest: Is specific to rocks that are rich in  calcium and magnesium, derived from the dark coloured olivine, serpentine, and pyroxene minerals in the rock.

Location: Dyke expose in Cloud Bay, south of Thunder Bay.
Date: May 1, 2002.

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Powdered Funnel Cladonia (Cladonia carneola)

Form: Erect cup-shaped lobes that are dense, loose, or scattered, 1-5 mm long, 1 mm wide; ascending or horizontal; edges crenulate or deeply incised.

Colour: Light green.

Height: Up to 1.5 cm tall.

Habitat: Grows on humus-rich soil, stumps, and rotten wood, sometimes on tree trunks.

Location: Secord Road
Date: April 21, 2003.

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Powdered funnel cladonia, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon.

Old man's beard lichen, copyright 2002 Andy Fyon.

Old Man's beard (Usnea hirta)

Form: A hanging shrub lichen with a yellowish-green coloured branches.

Colour: Yellowish-green.

Height: Up to 15 cm long.

Habitat: Grows on bark and twigs of conifers, such as white spruce, black spruce, and tamarack, and less commonly deciduous trees.

Uses: Used in the floral and craft trades.

Location: High Falls, Thunder Bay.
Date: May 1, 2002.

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Spotted Dog Lichen (Peltigera aphthosa); also known as Freckle Pelt Lichen.

Form: A leaf lichen that is loosely attached; lobes broad, 2 - 5 cm wide; has scattered dark-coloured to black 'warts' on the upper surface; the lower surface veinless or with broad, cottony, inconspicuous veins, that darken abruptly inward from the lobe tips;

Colour: Dull grey-green when dry and bright green when moist.

Fruiting Body: Large, reddish to blackish brown, on upper surface of extended lobes.

Height: Grows close to the surface.

Habitat: Grows on moss, humus, decaying logs, and occasionally rocks, typically in forested areas. It is  common and widespread in the boreal forest to the Arctic across Northwestern Ontario.

Interest: The brown- to black-coloured 'warts' on the upper surface contain tiny colonies of bacteria that extract nitrogen from the atmosphere for use by the lichen and the algal partner.  The name Peltigera is from the Latin pelta, which means 'a light shield'.  The name refers to the round shield-like shape.  The species name, aphthosa, is from the Greek aphthai, meaning 'an eruption or pustule'. The name refers to the dark-coloured 'warts' on the upper surface of this lichen.

Location: Fort Hope Indian Reserve (Eabametoong First Nation).
Date: August 26, 2003.

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Spotted dog lichen, copyright 2004 Andy Fyon.

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For more information email: ajfyon@vianet.on.ca
Page last updated on: April 9, 2004
Website created by Andy Fyon
http://www.ontariowildflower.com/moss.htm
© 1999-2004 Andy Fyon

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