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20 Types of Moss to Upgrade Your Garden’s Look

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As one of the oldest plant species on the earth, types of moss vary with more than 20,000 varieties available.

Even though many homeowners consider moss an annoyance in their garden as it tends to spoil the view of a lawn or cultivate redundantly between cracks in paving, the species offers a few advantages.

You can use moss to fill out planters or to substitute grass. Utilizing the species as groundcover makes a good idea too.

We divide types of moss into two categories, including acrocarpous and pleurocarpous. These two groups have some dissimilarities with the first one typically grows upright, while the second has a scattering carpet-like growth tendency.

Acrocarpous moss will generate a mounded colony and typically grow slower compared to Pleurocarpous species.

Moreover, this category also consists of moss that cannot withstand constant moisture for more than two or three months.

An acrocarpous moss has to dry out periodically to stay alive. The common species of this category include Dicranum scoparium and Polyrichum commune.

Pleurocarpous moss, on the other hand, is a fast-growing variety that can regenerate quickly from its broken fragments.

Different from its slow-grower cousin, pleurocarpous moss is capable of tolerating continuous moisture. Some species on this category can even submerge as it survives.

Spoon Leaved Moss

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Spoon Leaved Moss is a pleurocarpous kind that can grow up to 5 cm in height. Also known as Bryoandersonia illecebra, this species requires partial sun and shade to cultivate perfectly.

This moss shapes a thick blanket of cushioned leaves that cover its 4-cm stems. Meanwhile, the small overlapping foliage of Spoon Leaved resembles a group of juicy caterpillars.

While the older foliages are brown, the young ones of this moss are brilliant green. Although this species is common in the US, it is rare in Canada.

If it grows in its ideal habitats such as fertile, rocky, moist, and rich soil, the life expectancy should be longer.

American Tree Moss

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Scientifically named Climacium americanum, this kind of pleurocarpous moss grows up to 12.7 cm in height and loves partial shade the most.

Originally from North America, you can find these types of moss cultivating widely across the eastern parts of Canada and the US.

It typically grows well in clay, sandy, rocky, and heavy soil with a densely branched habit. The major stems are brown, while the secondary ones are commonly red.

Thanks to the stems’ color, this moss gives out a hint of small Christmas trees bundled together. Its unique characteristic makes the species popular for making a wreath and decorating various crafts.

The leaves of American Tree Moss start pale green and turn to be a darker shade of olive as the plant ages.

You can easily come across these types of moss in nature paths, woodlands, riverbanks, alongside streams, and along the stony ground.

Springy Turf Moss

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If you are looking for types of moss that can tolerate very damp environments, this species is one of the best choices.

Its scientific name is Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus, and it is a kind of acrocarpous moss, which can reach 15 cm tall when mature.

As one of the most common moss species, you can easily find this species in lawns and grasslands. It will grow well in partial shade with acidic, damp soil.

Each stem of Springy Turf Moss measures up to 12 cm in length and is in little pale green leaves that feature a dense hair-like characteristic.

The green leaves point out on the contrary direction of the red stems, offering exceptional quality.

Meanwhile, people often refer to these types of moss as ‘electric cat’s tail’ due to its spiky look.

Common Haircap Moss

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This type of acrocarpous moss is easy to recognize thanks to its lengthy shoots of thin spiked leaves. It can reach 24 inches tall and loves partial shade areas.

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The Common Haircap Moss is capable of withstanding pollution as well as fertilizer. You can easily find this species across the western hemisphere as it cultivates in a wide range of environments and soils.

Also known as Polytrichum commune, these types of moss have red-brown stems and vivid green leaves. The foliages are unique when you see them from above.

Baby Tooth Moss

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Plagiomnium cuspidatum or commonly known as Baby Tooth Moss is a perennial species that loves partial shade.

You can expect this perennial moss to grow up to 4 cm tall in a variety of soils, including loam, sand, clay, and gravel.

Categorized into pleurocarpous types of moss, this species does not live long and typically exists in several regions, such as Africa, North America, and Asia.

It is easy to identify Baby Tooth Moss thanks to its tall stalks that hover above the pedestal leaves.

The leaves have deeply toothed margins, and they come in medium green.

If you are growing Baby Tooth Moss, keep in mind that this species cannot withstand full sun or high temperatures.

Therefore, make sure to put these types of moss in chilly temperatures and soggy circumstances.

Mood Moss

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Originally from North America, this acrocarpous type can grow up to 12.7 cm in height. It typically cultivates in clumps and creates stacks of cushion-like patches.

Mood Moss or scientifically named Dicranum scoparium generates decent, slim stems wrapped in spearhead shaped foliage. This species works perfectly in rock gardens and prefers partial to full shade.

You can easily find these types of moss in woodland as it grows well on damp soil, rocks, logs, and tree trunks.

Similar to Baby Tooth, this moss will not grow perfectly in full sun or waterlogged areas.

Pincushion Moss

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Leucobryum glaucum, as known as Pincushion, is a kind of acrocarpous moss that reaches 12.7 cm tall and 24 inches wide when grown-up.

It grows well when exposed to partial to full shade and is tolerant of no-water conditions. This perennial moss typically generates big dome-shaped mounds that appear exceptional.

A spread of stems coated in lance-shaped green-grey foliages is the one that creates the cushion-like appearance of Pincushion Moss.

Meanwhile, its feathery and smooth leaves give these types of moss a mild, plump look. Throughout winter and autumn, the spores of the plant will spread in the wind for reproduction.

Even though Pincushion Moss prefers a damp growing environment, it is more lenient of drought compared to other types.

Heath Star Moss

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Growing up to 10 cm in height once it matures, this type of acrocarpous moss is a fast-growing variety that loves moist, acidic soil.

Scientifically named Campylopus introflexus, Heath Star Moss is originally from South America. However, you can discover the species in many other areas, including the UK.

Heath Star Moss typically cultivates on rotting wood like old fence logs and posts. You may see it growing on graveled or thatched roofs too.

It features dark red-brown leaves and stems. Considering its strong growth habit, these types of moss can become invasive when growing in ideal circumstances.

Plume Moss

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Canada and northern Europe are where you can easily discover these types of moss as it grows widely in these regions.

Also known as ostrich-plume feather moss, you can expect this plant to be aesthetics. It has mid-green feathery leaves and can reach around 12.7 cm in height when mature.

Thanks to its diffusion growth habit, this moss can create such intense mats of it plastering wide areas of forest ground.

Ptilium crista-castrensis is the scientific name of this pleurocarpous moss. It prefers acidic, humid soil, and partial to full-shade light.

You can count on these types of moss for its decorative and symmetrical features.

Water Screw Moss

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This kind of acrocarpous moss offers a very decorative look with its tiny broad foliage crowded in circles around the stems.

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At a glance, Water Screw Moss appears like a carpet of small green blossoms. Its mature size is around 2.5 cm in height and can endure flooding.

If you are looking for types of moss on trees, this should be a good option since it typically grows on them.

However, you can also see Water Screw Moss growing on damp walls and stones. It may cultivate along the side of shaded highways as well.

Ribbed Bog Moss

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Featuring contrasting leaves and stems, these types of moss generates a far-reaching compilation of tufts that form a heavily matted carpet.

Also known as Bog Groove Moss, you can easily find this plant across the world, especially in boggy habitats.

Compared to other wild moss, this species is widespread in wetlands where the occurrence rate is higher.

Orange-brown stalks complement its yellow-green fine leaves. Once matures, it can reach up to 12.7 cm tall when cultivating in ideal condition.

It grows well in cool temperatures with partial sun to full shade. This moss is an acrocarpous and is prevalent in Canada.

Shiny Seductive Types of Moss

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Having a scientific name Entodon seductrix, this kind of pleurocarpous moss is fast-growing and capable of enduring sunny spots.

Shiny Seductive is a type of feather moss that can cultivate rapidly, spreading quickly sideways. Mostly discovered in North America, this plant uses rotten wood like felled trees, fence posts, and old logs as its main natural habitat.

You can consider using this moss to cover vacant space between plants quickly. It makes a good choice to complement a rock garden with a vivid and eye-catching base as well.

Different from other types of moss, Shiny Seductive enjoys full sun the most and can grow up to 12.7 cm tall in such circumstances.

Glittering Wood Moss

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It is another pleurocarpous types of moss, which people know well across the Northern Hemisphere. It prefers cool temperatures such as Scotland, Canada, and Russia.

Scientifically named Hylocomium splendens, Glittering Wood moss comes with red stems that can reach up to 20 cm long.

The leaves are olive green and have a decorative appeal thanks to their glossy quality when exposed by the light.

Glittering Wood Moss has another decorative appeal, such as little branches of a spruce tree. It also owns antibacterial properties, and its function includes lining floral arrangements.

You can also use these types of moss to fill gaps in the building of log cabins, like how people in Alaska and Canada tend to do so.

Common Tamarisk Moss

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This kind of fern moss comes with contrasting dark stems. Its leaves are brilliant yellow-green, making the plant appears like a palm leaf.

Also known as Thuidium tamariscinum, this moss offers an exceptional lacy look and can grow up to 15 cm in height when mature.

It grows in profound tufts on decaying logs and soggy ground. Just like many other acrocarpous mosses, this species enjoys partial to full shade too.

Different from most types of moss that enjoy acidic soil, Common Tamarisk is frequently cultivating on neutral loam.

Shaggy Moss

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The common name of this moss perfectly describes its appearance that seems messy and unkempt.

Shaggy Moss is a fuzzy, pleurocarpous type that grows on elongated tail-like stems. Its mature size can reach 10 cm tall and is frequently all over forests in the Pacific Midwest.

While the older leaves of Shaggy Moss are in a shade of brown, newer foliages tend to be bright green.

Thanks to its sprawling growth habit, this plant works well as a groundcover. It enjoys partial shade and rich, soggy soil like many other types of moss.

Outside its ideal habit, you may also find this moss growing along streams, riverbanks, and even on trees.

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Catherine’s Moss

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Due to its lance-shaped foliage that spread out from the stems and forms a spherical shape when being seen from above, many people call this plant the ‘big star moss’ as well.

The ideal habitats include well-draining soil that receives full to partial shade. However, this moss tends to grow on almost any damp surface too.

These types of moss have bright green foliage with a stiff texture. When the plant is dry, the leaves may become crispy in time.

You are more likely to locate Catherine’s Moss on grasslands and rocks. Despite its love of sheltered spots, it can tolerate some exposure to sunlight too.

The scientific name of this plant is Atrichum undulatum, and it is in the acrocarpous category. Catherine’s Moss can grow up to around 8 cm tall when mature.

Juniper Moss

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Most lists of different types of moss with pictures must include this acrocarpous species since it cultivates on every continent around the globe.

It is difficult to find Juniper Moss growing in soggy environments since this species prefers dry habitats.

Unlike other types of moss that enjoy a sheltered area, Juniper can grow well in exposed habitats too.

With prickly leaves in rosette-like patterns, this moss appears appealing yet unfriendly at the same time. Juniper can grow up to 12.7 cm tall and is very widespread.

You are likely to come across this moss in many places, including forest footpaths, gravel, dry grasslands, and quarries.

Rigid Beard Moss

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This moss can grow up to one-third of an inch in height once matures, featuring dense carpet-like quality.

Rigid Beard prefers acidic soil and partial to full sheltered locations like many other types of moss. It is the most common variety among the Didymodon species.

This moss is generally growing amid gaps in paving slabs, concrete, bricks in old walls, and rocks.

It generates many small foliages that clump together to create soft, opaque mats. This moss comes in dark emerald green color and enjoys moist environments.

Dwarf Haircap Moss

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Having a scientific name Pogonatum aloides, this plant offers an appealing look that hints at a succulent species instead of moss.

Dwarf Haircap is a kind of acrocarpous moss that can reach 2.5 cm in height. Since it prefers heavy shade, the plant can cultivate abundantly in sheltered conditions, especially on rotting logs and sandy soil.

In addition to sandy soil, this moss also enjoys loose, loamy, acidic soil. When treated right, it can be attractive visually.

These types of moss feature stubby red stems where rigid triangular leaves grow in a rosette pattern.

Sheet Moss

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Commonly known as Sheet Moss, Hypnum curvifolium is common in Europe. Its name indicates how the plant grows naturally.

The plant frequently generates large carpet-like mats on soil or rocks where it grows. Many florists use this moss, especially the golden-green species, to complement their flower arrangements.

Sheet moss itself does not refer to a single plant only as it is an umbrella of around 80 species in the family Hypnaceae.

Several species of this moss are aquatic, and people use some of them to stuff bedding due to its capability to induce sleep.

Like many types of moss, this plant enjoys decaying wood in damp areas as well. Even though it is quite rare in North America, the species’ distribution has been wide here.

Finally, it is understandable if you start to get interested in growing this plant. After discovering a few types of moss above, there is no doubt that some of them are visually attractive. Thus, do not hesitate to grow one!

References:

https://www.trees.com/types-of-moss

https://www.homestratosphere.com/types-of-moss/

https://www.britannica.com/plant/carpet-moss