Fire Moss – Ceratodon purpureus
Just about everyone has seen this moss. You probably didn’t know it but I’m fairly sure you have. Fire Moss tolerates pollution and broad pH ranges better than most so it’s not surprising to see it in urban areas. It colonizes disturbed and burnt over areas (like the wildflower Fireweed). It is a weedy moss found just about everywhere. The only limits to it’s range seem to be the tropics and the far north starting around zone 2.
Fire moss sends up stalks in early spring, usually as soon as the last snow melts. At first the stalks are green but they turn red as they mature. Cylindrical spore capsules form at the ends of the stalks and mature by late spring. Changes in humidity cause the stalks to twist and turn thereby aiding in spore dispersal. By mid summer the capsules decay and the stems break off.
The bowling ball is a Basswood tree fruit – about the size of a pea.
I prefer the name Fire Moss. Other common names include Purple Horn Toothed Moss and Red Shank. I can see Red Shank but where did anyone get purple horned tooth from?
…and now for something completely different:
Speaking of teeth if I had my way a certain group of wildflowers would have another common name – Fang Flower. If you wonder why look at the pic on this old post. Holy Flowering Fangs Batman Now that a new season has started I was thinking of my favorite photos from last season. That one always comes to mind first. It might not be my favorite but it still enters my dreams. To this day I still watch my back when out wildflower hunting. You never know when the pod people will strike.
CYA later- it’s time to go wrestle some rocks