Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Grey days, moss love

I think when a lot of people think about ecology in the city, they think about big stuff, like trees and falcons and coyotes. I humbly propose that if we really want to understand and appreciate nature in the city, we need to pay attention to those things, but we also have to look down, and look closely at the other smaller, things that we share this space with. We have to start noticing-and once you do, the city will never be the same place again.
I've been thinking about moss a lot lately. Moss is one of those fantastic bits of wildness that most people don't ever notice. It's subtle and it's all over the place, sprouting up uninvited and untended, little bits of spontaneous green.
The plant that we all recognize as moss is haploid (unlike you, you're diploid). It does not have true stems or leaves. Sperm and eggs are produced in this phase of it's life cycle, and need water (usually rain) for the sperm to swim through to find an egg. Those structures growing up out of the moss are another life stage, produced after the fusion of the egg and sperm. This stage produces spores, which are dispersed by wind and, if they land in the right spot, will grow up to be new moss. Cool huh? Plant reproduction is pretty incredible. I'm sure it will come up again.
Next time you're out and about, look for some moss. You probably won't have to go far, this picture is on my front porch. If you find some, kneel down and check it out. Tell it I said hello.

Recommended Reading
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Moss
More moss greatness!


Rosa Pantera said...

I love you! Science nerds unite!!!!! Ill look for moss in NYC and send you a pic :)

Keri said...

Rach-thanks for the book rec! I am going to see if the library has this...for years I have wanted all lawns replaced with moss but I haven't taken the time to learn anything. xoxo,keri in brooklyn