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Seattle's Green Growing Moss & the Moss-GMO Connection

Updated on February 20, 2015

Mosses Grow In Good Company With Leafy Compost & Ferns

To me, moss is comforting, always has been, since childhood in the northwestern United States. Moss is a fact of life anywhere west of the Cascade Mountains, and some places on the east side too.

Moss is a favorite sight and photographing the varieties is something I enjoy. In this article I present some facts about moss and 15 photographs I've taken in and around the Seattle, Washington area.

I was surprised to learn that moss plays a critical role in the scientific practices that are altering our foodstuffs in the 21st Century. In fact, as a result of the experimentation based on a certain species of moss, some exports are banned in much of the world.

Moss is no longer the humble plant that grows effortlessly along streams, in damp basement foundations, on fallen logs and in muggy forests. Now it's taken a place as a foundation for our healthcare and for the food we grow and consume. All Photographs © Leslie Sinclair

Moss is More Than Just a Pretty Heap of Fluff

Is moss just a pretty fluff in the forest?

Yes, it's not on my list of priorities; moss can grow, or moss can go!

Yes, it's not on my list of priorities; moss can grow, or moss can go!

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    Oh no, moss is one of our most valuable plants.

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      • TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

        I love to see moss on the shady sides of trees in forests, or more rarely in park areas in cities. It's rare where I live in a hot climate, although I've seen plenty in other areas I've been to, such as the beautiful redwood forests of Northern California.

      • Pat Goltz 3 years ago

        I like moss; it's beautiful. I like the green. I don't know whether it is "valuable" or not, but if used in GMO research, NOT!

      • Peggy Hazelwood 3 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

        I don't know anything about moss but love it! It's velvety soft!

      • Ellen Gregory 3 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        I love to look at the different types of moss --- all different colors; all different sizes

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        I'm a lover of moss and have always allowed it to grow anywhere it wants to!

      The Biotechnology of the Bioreactor

      Complex Biopharmaceuticals are very much in the news today, as scientists develop knowledge in the field of genetic engineering, thanks to an interest in moss.

      With the intention of improving human health and altering the crops we raise. whatever position we take on the ethics of altering genes, the practice is already in place.

      University of Freiburg professor Ralf Reski, with his team, invented the Bioreactor, in his primary focus on the genetics of moss. As a result of his work, a particular species of moss, Physcomitrella patens, as become the model plant for genome sequencing research across the globe.

      Reski uses this research to experiment with the insertion of genes that link up with drugs into animals or plants to create Genetically Modified Organisms, and understanding moss is the basis for all this manipulation.

      PHOTO CREDIT - I didn't take this one.

      This photograph by Ralf Reski

      In Case Your Interest in Moss is Piqued

      Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses
      Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses

      Take a magnifying glass outdoors, says one Reviewer, and transform your world of understanding about the mundane moss growing on your trees and porch steps.

      An assemblage of essays on the author's ruminations on the nature of moss. The author's insights inform those who approach nature from both a scientific, as well as a meditative perspective.

       

      Hillside Roots Groomed in Moss

      This is one of my favorite side views on the perimeter path around the Seward Park peninsula. It's a Winter scene, as during Spring the hill grows ferns and leaves and gains movement from the wind. During Winter it looks like the landscape is frosted in rich green velvet.

      Chubby Spiky Top Tree Bulbous With Moss

      The contrast between the lumpy quilted covering of the lower trunk and the spiked upper limbs attracts my attention in this photograph.

      Positive & Negative Shapes Highlight Moss

      it looks to me like a pedal shaped piece was cut out and placed to the right of the moss covered tree trunk. Somehow, this picture is linked in my mind with my sewing machine pedal.

      Drippy Mossy Forest is Surreal

      When elements combine just so, the resulting drifting moss forest is an enchanting venue for a solitary stroll, or scary tale making with the kids.

      Mossy Log Cradled in Nourishing Leafy Blanket

      Imagine a Winter forest without moss - no bright greens or young and light mossy greens, while grays and browns predominate, missing the complementary colors of Summer. Imagine this picture without the green. We need those contrasts, those highlights in our lives, to help us appreciate their polar opposites.

      Long Fuzzy Gloves

      I like the way the central tree appears to be extending a grasping hand clothed in a shaggy green knit.

      Moss On Rock Fence Creates Landscape

      Moss On Rock Fence Creates Landscape
      Moss On Rock Fence Creates Landscape

      As If The Moss is Sprayed On

      A tree like this one, that has grown tall enough to catch the sun on the south facing side, usually dries out so much on that side that it's challenging for moss to grow on that side. Moss requires sufficient moisture on its host to sustain it's life.

      Usually the most moss grows on the north side of trees, above the equator, and on the south side, below the equator. In this case the moss grows on the north and east sides of the tree.

      Ornate Like Fancy Bronze

      Sometimes moss is not so straightforward. It grows low and sedately and polishes off an old tree face, looking as if it were carved from a bronze plate with a hearty patina.

      When The Sun's Just Right

      Roots pop up, donning coverings of hairy moss, providing punctuation to an otherwise mundane landscape.

      Photographs © 2013 Leslie Sinclair

      An Article by The Author

      Like a Velvet Covering

      Along the paved path where I often walk, down by the lake, some cracks burst open. Winter's rains and raising lake waters pulled the soil down into the lake.

      Over the months I had photographed the broadening expanse of the potholes and noticed that the asphalt in the area covered a cave like opening under several holes.

      Sometimes the Plumbling's Outdoors

      On the asphalt path along a local river I came upon this giant plumbing fitting. I thought it resembled a piece of antiquity, and enjoyed the play of rust and mushy moss.

      Big Mossy Trunks Like Pillows

      All over an old forest floor lie downed tree trunks, strewn like cushy pillows over the leafy carpeting. They appear as pleasant to me as overlooking a living room floor all readied for a slumber party with the sleeping bags already laid out.

      Tree Trunks With a Smattering of Feathers

      It's as if a stiff wind blew all the feathers off a flock of birds, and they pierced the bark of willing trees to grow like so many ferns, above their mossy coats.

      Polished Roots in High Contrast to Mossy Coating

      Polished Roots in High Contrast to Mossy Coating
      Polished Roots in High Contrast to Mossy Coating

      You Might Want a Little Camera & Case Like These Ones I Use

      Pentax Q 12.4 MP CMOS Sensor Dual Lens Kit with 8.5mm and 5-15mm zoom (White)
      Pentax Q 12.4 MP CMOS Sensor Dual Lens Kit with 8.5mm and 5-15mm zoom (White)

      For my second digital camera I chose this little number. When I don't want to carry the full-sized camera, more often than not I take my Q.

      Judge the quality of the photos from those shown here. They say the biggest cause of missed shots is failure to take the camera along, and this one fits in a jacket pocket.

       
      TARION® Protective Camera Case Bag Cover Protector for Pentax Q and Pentax Q10 Digital Camera DSLR 8.5mm / 5-15mm Lens Detachable With Strap Soft Layer Brown
      TARION® Protective Camera Case Bag Cover Protector for Pentax Q and Pentax Q10 Digital Camera DSLR 8.5mm / 5-15mm Lens Detachable With Strap Soft Layer Brown

      The Q camera above has the bonus of an included zoom lens, and this is the perfect case that fits each lens. Having this tiny camera on a shoulder strap is the perfect way to go.

      I keep mine handy near the front door and often grab it when going out for errands. You just never know when you might want a better quality picture than you can get from your smart phone.

       

      Have You Any Thoughts About Moss?

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        • Snakesmum profile image

          Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

          I've always liked moss and lichens - you have some great photoes here.

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          mina009 3 years ago

          Moss was my favorite during my long walks in the forest as a child and it still is my favorite. Great pictures!

        • trying2Bhealthy profile image

          trying2Bhealthy 3 years ago

          I think moss is beautiful but I had no idea it had anything to do with GMO foods.

        • Mary Stephenson profile image

          Mary Stephenson 3 years ago from California

          I grew up in the northwest, actually BC. We had moss on the island in the woods. Thought it was pretty and looked like a soft blanket. But went along the coast of Oregon where it rains 120 inches a year. Now that was a lot of moss on those trails, but it was spectacular.

        • lesliesinclair profile image
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          lesliesinclair 3 years ago

          @Mary Stephenson: Yes, the coastal areas are rife with moss. It seems to me that moss is clean and that's part of what I like about it.

        • SheGetsCreative profile image

          Angela F 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

          Before moving to Seattle, the only place I routinely saw moss was at the craft store! Love your pics :)

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          jlshernandez 3 years ago

          The drippy moss is so attractive. Lovely lens.

        • LiteraryMind profile image

          Ellen Gregory 3 years ago from Connecticut, USA

          This reminds me very much of what we see on one of the walks we take here in Connecticut. Big ferns, rich mosses -- beautiful.

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          zeptra 3 years ago

          very nice,,, :) thanx for share it to me,

        • Scarlettohairy profile image

          Peggy Hazelwood 3 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

          Interesting moss facts. I've always been intrigued by it.

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          TommysPal 3 years ago

          I think moss is beautiful. I actually set up an aquarium in my house last month and I filled it with moss. I hope I can keep it alive.

        • Pat Goltz profile image

          Pat Goltz 3 years ago

          By the way, check your last quiz. I think you selected the wrong answer (based on your lens). :)

        • lesliesinclair profile image
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          lesliesinclair 3 years ago

          @Pat Goltz: I sure appreciate that notice. You were right and I corrected it. What would we do without each other's help.

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          lesliesinclair 3 years ago

          @anonymous: Oh, your Bambi notion rings true to me. For so much of my life I've been blessed to enjoy regular time in the forests, and you are so right about the connection with your childhood memory. I've often thought of the little deer story when making a discovery in the woods. We even had real live deer on some of our properties. So glad you liked the pictures.

        • lesliesinclair profile image
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          lesliesinclair 3 years ago

          @Pat Goltz: Maybe it's our love of moss that makes us all the more concerned about GMOs.

        • profile image

          lionmom100 3 years ago

          I love moss as long as it isn't on my roof (an impossibility). One of the reasons I love the Northwest.

        • VspaBotanicals profile image

          VspaBotanicals 3 years ago

          Beautiful Photos!

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          golfspice 3 years ago

          Like most things in life, there is clearly more to moss than meets the eye. Although quite attractive on my old apple tree, I wish it would stay off the footpath.

        • lesliesinclair profile image
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          lesliesinclair 3 years ago

          @golfspice: You're so right - it can be a nuisiance, visually attractive, but slippery, on a walkway.

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          TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

          I didn't know about the GMO connection. This lens has amazing photographs, very beautiful. Also, I like how your lenses often have quizzes about the lens. Good idea!

        • lesliesinclair profile image
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          lesliesinclair 3 years ago

          @TanoCalvenoa: Wasn't that the biggest shock! I would have been the biggest skeptic if I had heard about the GMO moss connection in conversation, but now I see it's a scientific fact.

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