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

Updated on August 29, 2017

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?

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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    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 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.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 4 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

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      golfspice 4 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.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      Beautiful Photos!

    • profile image

      lionmom100 4 years ago

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

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

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

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 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

      lesliesinclair 4 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.

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 4 years ago

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

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 4 years ago

      I think moss is gorgeous, and I love your photos. We don't get much moss around here. OTOH, GMOs are poison.

    • profile image

      TommysPal 4 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.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

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

    • profile image

      zeptra 4 years ago

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

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 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.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 4 years ago

      The drippy moss is so attractive. Lovely lens.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have always been attracted to moss and you got me thinking of one of my favorite spots on the blueberry hill growing up. There was this special little hollow that I always expected Bambi to be laying on....a nice thick mat of moss surrounded by wild plants and flowers and open in the front....I would seek it out to feast my eyes on every time I was up there....just like I've feasted my eyes here! Also, learned a little science but for me its all about the pictures...could almost smell them! :)

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 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.

    • Mary Stephenson profile image

      Mary Stephenson 4 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.

    • trying2Bhealthy profile image

      trying2Bhealthy 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      mina009 4 years ago

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

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

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