WiseAcre Gardens

north of the adirondacks – wildflowers & perennials that survive winters colder than my wife's feet

Blog Home - For more Wildflower, Perennial, Mushroom and Looney Tunes images visit my web site - Wiseacre Gardens
Posted by WiseAcre on Apr 11th, 2009

Fire Moss

Apr 11

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 in March
March 7

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.

Fire Moss
April 10
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

11 Responses

  1. Meems @Hoe & Shovel Says:

    First of all- great photos. I think I can safely say I’ve never seen this interesting moss. We have lots of spanish moss hanging from trees around here… but not any of that pretty fire moss. Clicked over to the other photo… it DOES have fangs but oh, so pretty ones.

    I’d be so happy to trade you some warmth and humidity for some of those rocks. LOL

    Fire moss is just a plain jane most of the year. Only when it gets dolled up and paints on the reproductive rouge is it pretty. Another month and it will just be plain old moss again.

    I’d love to see Spanish Moss here. My woods would look great with the Eerie theme.

    After that photo I had a Macro obsession 🙂

    You keep the humidity and I’ll pay the postage for the heat if you pay the postage for the rock.

  2. Monica Says:

    Moss is so cool close up–I love how a bowling ball is really pea-sized. This moss lives up to its fiery name!

    It really does live up to its name – from a distance you can see a reddish glow. Those Basswood bowling balls are a real pain. They fall in the 100s of thousands and the mice have to store every single one – usually in the air filter of the lawn mower.

  3. Ratty Says:

    I’ll be looking for tiny reddish plants now, I never knew they existed. I was just thinking about the pod people. I was going to go take a look at their evil progress. Maybe they were the ones that caught these other plants on fire.

    I think the Pod People are too busy at the investment banks right now to worry about starting any other fires.

  4. cindee Says:

    cool moss. I haven’t seen that here but then again since it is so small I might have missed it. The pods are creepy. That reminds me of the movie…Body Snatchers….yikes!

    Guess I take moss for granted since there’s so much around here. It’s hard to miss this moss when the red stems are out. Even a small patch shows up clearly from a distance. It was the red glow that sidetracked me to take a closer look.

    Getting a close up look gives you a different perspective on milkweed doesn’t it? I’ve checked a number of different species and they all have fangs. …..The Invasion of the Body Snatchers wasn’t so bad. Once they got hold of my kids they were so much better behaved.

  5. rainfield Says:

    I have only found green mosses at my place. I may need a thicker pair of glasses in order to show off to you my colourful one.

    This moss is green – the red stalks just give it a reddish haze in spring. I don’t think thicker glasses will help. I don’t recommend mushrooms but I hear tell they set off colors in your head.

  6. sharkbytes Says:

    So the green and red ones are the same kind, eh? Just saw a lovely green patch yesterday, and I put some red ones on my blog a couple weeks ago, but not so closeup. I need to learn how to use the supermacro on the camera.

    I’ve seen green stalks that I think are a different species – I have to keep watching those to make certain. It’s possible they’re late comers and really are fire moss too. It’s so hard to tell what’s what since all kinds of mosses are growing together.

    Yes I saw those on your blog – they are Fire Moss
    …signed: the lurker

  7. rosemary Says:

    Happy Easter , good luck with the rocks and thanks for the info on fire moss………

    Happy Easter to you too.

    I had good luck yesterday – got a good load and there’s plenty more where those came from. Somebody is going to be happy besides me. They’ll get their walks done this year.

  8. peppylady Says:

    I’m fairly sure we have those moss around here.
    Things are coming back.

    Have a Hoppy Easter.

    Happy Easter to you too! Yes, the circle of life is rolling around to new life again.

  9. Joy Says:

    I absolutely adore that first picture !
    It is so detailed and the lighting is perfect .. you did an amazing job capturing it : ) .. did it run fast ? LOL
    Seriously .. that is almost too perfect a picture .. did you stare at it all day to make sure you got the movement timed correctly ?
    Like hairs on the arm of mother nature … and you know that commercial ? .. it’s not nice to fool mother nature !
    smirk giggle giggle ^..^

    Obviously it was slower than a rolling stone. I was there a long time but not staring – just snapping one photo after another hoping one came out good enough to use.

    It’s not nice say Mother Nature looks like a Neanderthal. You risk growing fuzz on your butter.

  10. Lisa Says:

    Thank you for posting this! I got some pics of this moss in my yard just the other day, now I know what it is. I LOVE the “fang flower” too, I’d never seen them that close-up.

    Glad to introduce you.
    I hadn’t either before taking the macro. Now I look at milkweed through a whole different lens.

  11. Eva Says:

    This is a really great web site 🙂 So wonderfull photos!
    May I have a question? Could I use one of your photos and post it on my web? I´m writing about Ceratodon and these photos are the best I´ve seen.
    Thank you very much 🙂

    Thank you for asking, yes you may use any photo you like
    To use a photo:
    copy and store on your own hosting service – do not hot-link directly to my image.
    you do not necessarily have to give ‘photographer credit’ but I do ask for a link back to the page the image is displayed on. (not image)