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Moss Identification Virginia

Moss Identification Virginia

Moss Identification Virginia

Mosses and liverworts contain photosynthetic pigments and, like more advanced plants, produce their own food from sunlight. Mosses typically have small leaves arranged in a whorl around a short stem. Liverworts are closely related to mosses, but can usually be recognized by their larger flattened leaves that grow in two rows. Mosses and liverworts occur in a variety of habitats throughout Shenandoah National Park. These non-vascular plants (bryophytes) lack well developed water conducting tissue and tend to be most abundant in moist areas, such as the splash zones of a waterfalls, or in the higher elevation forests that are frequently envelopedin fog.

Moss

The park supports approximately 208 species of moss and 58 species of liverwort. These plants can grow on many different substrates including soil, rocks, and bark in a variety of environmental conditions. Some examples from Shenandoah include white cushion moss (Leucobryum glaucum) on nutrient poor acidic soil, haircap moss (Polytrichum commune) on moist ground, and sphagnum moss (Sphagnum spp.) in the Big Meadows swamp.Juniper haircap moss is a cosmopolitan moss [26,124], growing on every continent including Antarctica [26]. Its distribution is nearly transcontinental in North America [24,26]; juniper haircap moss is distributed from Alaska east to Greenland, south through all of the contiguous United States except Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida, with its distribution extending into Mexico. It is rare in the high arctic and does not occur in Hawaii [34]. Flora of North America provides a distributional map of juniper haircap moss.

Juniper haircap moss occupies a wide range of habitats [5,136], from alpine meadow [5,29] and tundra [63] plant communities to dry scrub oak (Quercus spp.) forests in the Northeast [5]. In a review, Peterson and others [111] list juniper haircap moss as occurring across a wide gradient of habitats in the Pacific Northwest, from low-elevation savannas through wet and dry coniferous forests to alpine communities. Juniper haircap moss is most commonly reported in forests that experience frequent disturbances (see Successional Status and Fire Ecology). Descriptions of juniper haircap moss in northern (boreal and subboreal), northeastern, and western plant communities follow.Across North America, juniper haircap moss is reported most often in early-successional boreal and subboreal spruce (Picea spp.) taiga communities of Alaska and northern Canada (for example, [35,53,65,119,148]). In northern Quebec, juniper haircap moss, common haircap moss (P. commune), and globose haircap moss (P. piliferum) dominated the floor of a black spruce-jack pine (Picea mariana-Pinus banksiana) forest that had established after a wildfire 47 years previously [78]. The moss layer in boreal and subboreal communities is often diverse; a moss species with 1% to 2% cover or frequency can be common to dominant on some sites [50,57,109,117,122,134]. (Source: www.fs.fed.us)

 

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