The Moss Forest: A World in Miniature

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And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day" (Genesis 1:31)

The Moss Forest: A World in Miniature

Sometimes we don't see the forest for the trees, and other times we don't see the individual trees within the forest. In this series, we will look at a forest within a forest, a forest so small that we usually only see it as a green patch upon the ground. It is only through our understanding of the whole of creation that we can work together to preserve it for future generations of our fellow humans and animals.
(The Moss Forest - The Aulacomnium Grove - 01) The early spring green patches of moss amongst unthawed sheltered areas of snow upon the otherwise brownish earth caught our attention as we walked through the woods.  A closer look revealed even more detail, like an interwoven network of primordial plants.  God's world always presents us with wonders to behold and something to protect.
(The Moss Forest - The Aulacomnium Grove: A Closer Look - 02) The very small twig within the aulacomnium grove appears as the trunk of a fallen tree in a forest.  It never ceases to amaze us how even the smallest of God's created things show that the Lord cares about the minutest details.  Let us work together to preserve all of God's creation.
(The Moss Forest - The Aulacomnium Grove - 03) This is a clump of aulacomnium moss that we saw in a partial clearing in the woods on 3 April 2011.
(The Moss Forest - The Aulacomnium Grove - 04) This is another view of the patch of aulacomnium moss, and even though in the photo it can look much larger than it is, it was not more than 1 inch tall at it's highest point.
(The Moss Forest - The Aulacomnium Grove - 04a) As we zoom in on this "grove" of aulacomnium moss, it takes on a whole new character. We are not sure how many species of aulacomnium moss there are, but the USDA lists 5 of them.
(The Moss Forest - The Aulacomnium Grove - 05) This is another look at the aulacomnium moss.
(The Moss Forest - The Cord Woods - 01) We rarely look to see this part of God's creation in this kind of detail to appreciate all that has been made for us.  To give some perspective to this photo, the fallen "logs" that stretch across the vista are white pine needles.  Later in the year, these stocks develop spore pods, which will be scattered by the wind to produce more cord moss.
(The Moss Forest - The Cord Woods: An Inner Jungle - 03) As we walk by a fuzzy patch of moss, we rarely visualize its inner jungle-like appearance that this ants-eye view provides us.  When I see these little details, it makes me appreciate God and His creation even more.  It's as the psalmist wrote (Psalm 9:1-2 NASV):
I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart
I will tell of all Thy wonders.
I will be glad and exult in Thee;
I will sing praise to Thy name, O Most High.
(The Moss Forest - The Cord Woods: The Spore Pods - 05) These are some of the maturing spore pods of the cord moss that are at the ends of the slender stocks that rise above their inner jungle.  The total height of the stocks is less than an inch and such creative detail is most often missed as we walk by.  God's magnificence seems to be displayed at every scale we choose to observe it, whether it's the vastness of space as seen through the Hubble telescope, or the many vistas we have upon this earth, or the smaller details we have displayed in these photos, or those things we only can see with a microscope.  And one day, if we are able to see actual atomic particles, we will see God's creative handiwork there, too.
(The Moss Forest - The Sphagnum World - 01) This close-up view of the light, the shadows, and the various colors, which all blend together, gives the sphagnum world a different perspective than we would normally see at a casual glance.  It is much more than a patch of green on the ground.  It is a forest in miniature.  It is part of God's creation to remind us of His glory.  It is a reminder of our responsibility to preserve all that God has made.
(The Moss Forest - The Sphagnum World: Another View - 02) This view of the world of the sphagnum moss is almost like looking down upon the tops of palm trees.  It appears to be a dense impenetrable jungle rather than the soft green carpet we usually visualize as moss.  God's world always has new wonders for us to enjoy, but with our enjoyment comes the responsibility to protect the whole of creation from harm.
(The Moss Forest - The Sphagnum World: A Hidden Grotto - 03) We enjoy walking through the woods and along country roads and looking at the sheltered areas along streams and in rocky places for the "hidden" beauty spots of God's creation.  However, these are usually quite large in comparison to this one that we found in the microcosm of the sphagnum world, where a small dried leaf looks like a giant rock amongst the "trees".  It's a reminder to be protective of all that God has given us.
(The Moss Forest - The Sphagnum World - 04) On 3 April 2011 we took this and the following photos of a growth of sphagnum moss before all the fine feathery tips had opened. According to the literature, there are between 151 and 300 species of sphagnum moss, which when dried is sold commercially as peat moss. While living, sphagnum moss can hold up to 20 times its dry weight in water, which is very similar to most fresh green vegetables.
(The Moss Forest - The Sphagnum World - 05) This is a another look at the sphagnum moss on the forest floor. Sphagnum moss likes to grow in wet acidic soils, and are not generally found in the woods, which is where we found clump growing.
(The Moss Forest - The Sphagnum World - 05a) In this closer look at the sphagnum moss, we can more clearly see the difference between the opened feathery "branches" on the left as compared to the closed ones on the right.
(The Moss Forest - The Sphagnum World - 05b) In this close up photo, we have both a side and top view of the some of the sphagnum moss.
(The Moss Forest - The Sphagnum World - 06) This is another view of sphagnum moss growing in a clearing in the woods.
(The Moss Forest - The Sphagnum World - 06a) In this photo, last fall's fallen dried leaves give the appearance of a rock outcropping at the edge of the woods, instead of the reality that these sphagnum moss "trees" are no more than 1/2 inch tall.
(The Moss Forest - The Sphagnum World - 06b) In this photo we are looking down through the tops of the 1/2 inch tall sphagnum moss "trees". However, this moss forest is so dense that even an ant would have a hard time finding a way through it, and would most likely walk over the top.
(The Moss Forest - The Sphagnum World - 07) This is another look at the sphagnum world. Sometimes we have a hard time identifying a patch of moss with the naked eye, and these photos make the identification much easier.

(The Moss Forest - The Sphagnum World - 07a) In this close up photo, we see the new growth "forest" of sphagnum moss rising above the dead and dying growth of previous years.
(The Moss Forest - The North Side of the Tree - 01) On the east side of our home is an cottonwood tree with a bright fresh green coat of moss clinging to the north side of its trunk.  Viewing it from our window, it almost looks like someone painted the bark, but upon closer examination, one marvels at the complexity of God's paint brush.  It's like a whole little jungle growing upon the bark of only one tree.  God's creation is truly a blessing to behold; one that requires our protection.