a moss, Sphagnum sp., photo © by Michael Plagens

On the floor of an old growth forest, Tugen Hills, Kenya. Dec. 2015.

Mosses are non-vascular plants, meaning they lack specialized tissues for transporting water and nutrients. This limits their height to that which water can move via osmosis through the cellular spaces. Only in very wet habitats will these types of plants grow more than a few centimeters above the moist soil or rotting log. Mosses also lack flowers, reproducing my spores or vegetatively. The example has branching stems and forms mats. Mats of this moss, including dead material below, can store large quantities of water and release it slowly. These accumulations of moss and peat are vital to the forest health and its ability to serve as a buffer against drought.

Sphagnaceae -- a Moss Family

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 25 Jan. 2016