These moss photos might appeal to those who love abstract art like artists Richard Diebenkorn, Mark Rothko and especially Robert Ryman. In me they evoke tender feelings of peace and harmony because of the combination of earthy & messy botanical stuff with the relative straight edges and hardness of the bricks! I also get a kick out of the little dandelion that makes it look like a tiny lawn with a tree.
This spot on Portland Avenue in Berkeley (near my brother’s house) had lots of different bricks and the moss grew on some bricks but not others. I Imagine it had to do with the hardness and texture of the bricks. The moss free ones in the photo are new bricks and this hard looking brick looks like marble or granite.
Got busy with my camera this week the minute the rain cleared because I checked some reports on California weather and learned we have just 2.5 months of winter left. This chartreuse moss photo is actually lichen. It covers a whole fence somewhere along the Arlington. Been by there several times trying to find a way to make this backdrop into an interesting photo. I may be using this image as the book cover. Love it so! But then it’s lichen…so a complication.
My walk took me up Portland Avenue to Colusa and then further up Vicente Ave to one of the “secret” stair paths up there. There are some gardeners there on Vicente who are crazy about succulents. Hats off to you all! I’ve included some of your gems.
Moss photos and few lichen photos by Karen Nierlich.
West Berkeley has fascinated me in recent years as a study in contrasts. There are modern homes and small, dilapidated ones. Day labors waiting up and down the corners of Hearst Avenue near Truitt & White Lumber hoping to land a construction or gardening job and flocks of people socializing and shopping in the upscale boutiques on 4th Street.
I think these moss photos capture a bit of the rustic and the urban vibe that is Berkeley. The rustic vibe consists of Mexican-inspired bright colored houses, vegetable gardens and chickens, handmade birdhouses and farmer’s markets produce. The urban vibe comes from the industrial businesses (we even have a steel foundry I think), the freeway, BART, and tough streets of West Berkeley.
Moss Photos brought to you by Karen Nierlich, in Albany, CA. Prints are available by request and a book in the works. Follow me on Twitter or subscribe to the blog in the right sidebar.
I swear the person who named liverwort wasn’t thinking how they’d handle themselves on the playground. I mean really, “liver” and “wort”! His mother must have hated him!
In the photo above the liverwort is the fleshy looking bow tie with the reptilian texture! The books I’ve been reading often talk about moss and liverworts together because they reproduce in a similar way—via sperm that swim and fertilize eggs in a separate female plants.
Like moss, liverworts appear in most every ecosystem around the world. Liverwort is everywhere except the very driest environments, there are species that live in the desert and there are approx. 9,000 specimens worldwide. Scientists used to consider them Bryophyta like moss but are now placing the liverwort in a different division. The only liverworts I’ve seen so far grow on the sides of rocks in streams and rivers where they are constantly wetted by the splash of water.
According to Wikipedia, liverwort means “liver plant” in Old English and was named in ancient times for it’s supposed ability to cure liver disease. However, today it is not used as food or medicine. In fact, we humans don’t use it for anything except as an aquarium plant.
All photos in this post are from Smoky Mountains National Park. See more moss from the Smokies in a previous post at Sweet Tennessee Moss in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Karen Nierlich is a photographer who is working on a fine art book about Moss. As Winter approaches she is thinking where she might travel in N. California to photograph moss. Any suggestions?
Well, sex is definitely overstating it a bit and when I and others use it, it’s for fun or sensationalism and eyeballs. When it comes to moss we are definitely talking about reproduction. I’ve been formulating an article about moss sex for a while but then the respected scientific journal Nature came out with new research and new discoveries in July. Glad I waited…
Until recently it was believed that moss relied on water and moisture to get it’s sperm to the eggs. Most moss plants are either male or female. The eggs are contained in little pod-like structures called archegoniums and the sperm have to swim with the help of water to the eggs.
Moss grows everywhere, so I don’t see how anyone could truly be concerned that moss fertilization was impossible or seriously flawed. On the other hand, based on what scientists knew about moss reproduction, fertilization seemed like a difficult proposition. Some say the moss sperm are weak and unintelligent, they scarcely live long enough make the distance to the eggs and there is also the challenge of finding the ensconced eggs with no road signs.
The new discovery is that the moss reproductive process looks a great deal like what happens with flowers, pollen and bees. Some cute micro bugs called Springtails as well as mites, act like bees traveling around, in and through the moss and the sperm are able to hitch a ride to the female eggs. And like flowers, female moss emits a chemical or scent that helps the sperm and the Springtails to find it. (Male plants have a scent as well.)
So a couple of other cool moss sex facts:
Moss is one of most ancient plants on earth and evolved from the algae in the oceans. Moss, lichen, liverworts all have sperm. Other plants do not. Scientists consider moss to be caught in a time warp; they evolved early on and then stayed the same.
In addition to water, scents and Springtails, it may be that moss sperms are released from a little pod or case, that catapults them near and far and thus reduces the distance they travel on their own. Seems like you could test this out by videotaping a moss plant continuously. Like a reality show for moss.
Scientists say the new research raises more questions than it answers. Those questions include, what’s in it for the Springtails? What do they get out of their relationship with moss? And is this kind of pollinator relationship more common then we thought? If moss & springtails do it and flowers & bees, anyone else?
What other discoveries lie ahead:)
If you are riveted by moss sex, here are my sources:
Summary of Nature Journal Article: Sex-specific Volatile Compounds Influence Microarthropod-mediated Fertilization of Moss
Droll Article on Better Sex for Moss with an Amazing Springtail Video:
How Mosses Have Sex in Spite of Their Swimming-Challenged Sperm
Karen Nierlich is the author of Journal of a Moss Enthusiastic. She’s looking forward to the rainy season and the opportunity to take more moss photos.
My father-in-law’s family and ancestors lived off the land and the forest in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They lived in a small log cabin without electricity or running water. Fresh, fresh water ran in creeks and rivers nearby. His family and others were forced to accept payment from the Park Service and move off the land so that the land could be preserved as a park. Frank Abbott grew up on a farm immediately outside the park.
We always head up to Big Rock when we visit my father-in-law. B-I-G Rock is a big rock that overhangs a busy river. There Frank and his brothers and friends played in the summers — jumping off the rock and catching crawdads in the waters below. In Spring, the waters flowing below Big Rock are fridge but it is one amazingly mossy spot. (cont. below)
Each year we go up there my husband and others jump off the rock…and…I…watch. I like to think I’m a fairly rugged girl but when it comes to cold water, I’m a total wimp.
This year I wanted to be able to show a photo of myself jumping off the rock to my Facebook friends. (I know, I know, I’m not proud of this.) So I got up there and after 2-3 tries managed to jump off. The water felt like it’d melted off an ice pack mere seconds ago. I seriously felt like I’d get ice burn if I stayed in there. I swam and scrambled out of there as fast as I could. I think you can see how pained I was in the after photo below where you see me on the bank.
Karen Nierlich is author of Journal of a Moss Enthusiast, Albany, CA. Photographic prints of some images will be available in the future and she is starting to put together a book of moss photos and text.
More moss photos from the Dipsea trail
We found the mossiest trees I’ve ever seen while hiking the Dipsea Trail from Muir Woods to Stinson Beach! You can see them right here—the pose makes me think of rock album covers. You know the ones where the band members are all spaced out and looking cool. I was hopeful that this spot might be mossy all summer, but I’ve already been back and not so. A month later and there is nothing but drier and dry moss.
Hiked today with my family to celebrate Mother’s Day in Marin from Muir Woods to Stinson Beach on the Dipsea Trail. For those who don’t live in the Bay Area, the Dipsea Trail has a local cult standing due to a competitive running race that takes place there each year. Today as we hiked the trail we were repeatedly passed by runners going from regular to full throttle over the dirt trails.
I came home happy because as we approached Stinson Beach the trees became mossier and mossier. The sky and trees started to drip as though in a light rain. Really it was the condensation from the fog.
Let me just repeat it was super mossy. I realized I had been worried about running out of moss to photograph during the summer months. Looks like if I explore Marin near the coast, I’ll find lots of moss to photograph all summer long. Here is one of the many photos I took today.
Recently my family and I visited Tennessee to see my father-in-law. There a number of sites we revisit each time we are in Morristown, TN. One of them is a tavern Dave Crockett’s parents owned and he lived in as a boy. He was born in 1786 and from what I read the tavern was build in 1795 (though this structure is actually a reproduction built in the early 1900′s.)
My interest (of course) is to show you this roof covered with buttery dollops of moss, though I’ll include a few photos of the location overall. It’s so ball-like that must be a feature of how this moss grows. Love these moss pom-poms.
I think these are the kinds of photos I try to avoid taking. No chain link fence or edgy details to play off, but beautiful nature photos. This mossy glade is a mini-park at Oxford and Indian Rock Road in Berkeley in case you want to visit. It’s one block up from Indian Rock.
Karen Nierlich is a photographer and avid moss enthusiast in Albany, CA. She’s working on a book of moss photos tentatively titles “Moss in the City.” Subscribe for weekly updates. Or follow her on Twitter at Karen Nierlich.