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Moss teaches us to be attentive to life at all scales. The art of seeing requires practice. Celebrate the extraordinary smallness of this plant and the vibrancy of life at all scales.
Mosses are common but largely unnoticed in the Preserve. There are some 22,000 species of moss in the world, they inhabit every ecosystem on earth. Dried moss was widely used for its absorptive qualities. Sphagnum moss can absorb 20 to 40 times its weight in water. Indigenous people used it as diapers and as sanitary napkins. The acid astringency and mildly antiseptic properties even prevented diaper rash. Native Americans also used the insulating nature of packed moss by lining boots and mittens with soft mosses for an extra layer of insulation. For information on the biology of mosses read Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book “Gathering Moss – A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses.”
Pretty gray and dreary outside, but look at this brilliant Yellow/Orange Jelly Fungus on the trails! No color enhancement is needed. This fungus nestled between lichen helps break down organic matter. It is often seen on decaying pine. Some call it Witches Butter.
Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) is one of the most common mushrooms in the Preserve. As its name suggests the cap color is extremely variable. The top of the cap typically shows concentric zones of different colors. Sometimes it has areas with green algae growing on it. Look for it on dead hardwood. Its job is to break down lignin and cellulose in rotting wood. Photo by Ellen Scavia
Along PennDel trail you can see Hericium erinaceus (also called lion’s mane mushroom, monkey head mushroom, bearded tooth mushroom, pom pom mushroom, or bearded tooth fungus) It is an edible and medicinal mushroom belonging to the tooth fungus group (caution many mushrooms look alike). Native to North America, Europe, and Asia it can be identified by its long spines, its appearance on hardwoods, and its tendency to grow a single clump of dangling spines during late summer and fall on hardwoods, particularly American beech. Wikipedia. photo by Ellen Scavia