Mosses and Lichens create forest fairy gardens!


Deep in Chapman Forest, Charles County, MD among the Virginia Pine needles  Pincushion moss and Cladonia lichen grow together. Lichens are not a plant, while mosses are! Mosses are defined as simple plants with the most basic of root structures, leaves, and stems. Lichens are a very different type of creature, called a composite organism. Not just a plant, lichens are actually a single entity created from a joining of algae and fungus.


Out of focus but you can see the perfect pincushion shape.



Cladonia looks and feels like something you’d use to scrub a pan! Cladonia is a genus of moss-like lichens in the family Cladoniaceae. They are the primary food source for reindeer and caribou.


This is Hair Cap moss,(Polytrichum commune/Polytrichum juniperinumi).  I thought it was called Star Moss and the pictures I Googled looked similar. But its Latin name is Tortula ruralis. Fortunatey I was with Rod Simmons who knows mosses. I can see that moss identification will be a challenge.


Hair Cap is on the left. I think the lighter moss is also Pincushion but not sure.


The celadon-colored, flute-shaped lichen are British Soldiers. Cladonia cristatella, commonly known as the British soldiers lichen, is a fruticose lichen belonging to the family Cladoniaceae. They were favorites of mine as a child. These are missing their definitive, very noticeable red hats.




Published by

Carrie Staples

Author, illustrator of "The Yarn Animal Book", probably the only craft book with instructions for making such unique yarn animals as an orangutan, an ant eater, a llama and a star-nosed mole and "The Single Minded Prince, a fairy tale for all ages about a boy and a pirate captain who both misbehave. The books and a booklet series based on each different yarn craft topic covered in "The Yarn Animal Book" (pompoms and other really easy yarn crafts, knitting, crocheting, rya, needlepoint and embroidery), are available on Amazon and Kindle.

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