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Moss Myths

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Myths and misconceptions

They are common in the world of mosses. As with other generalizations or stereotypes, there may be some measure of truth. 

Myth #1 Mosses live in the shade.

Partially true. While some mosses prefer shady habitats, others may tolerate direct sun.

Myth #2 Mosses live in places where grasses won’t grow.

True. Mosses can thrive on disturbed, nutrient deprived soils where other plants suffer.

Myth #3 Mosses grow on Northern exposures.

Partially true. Northern exposures retain more moisture. However, in regions with high rainfall and humidity, mosses will grow all around the base of trees. Don’t depend on this myth if you get lost in my neck of the woods.

Myth #4 Mosses need moisture and wet places to grow.

True. All mosses need some moisture at some time to survive. While some like extremely moist habitats, there are many bryophytes that grow in the sun. Small niches or microclimates provide mosses with moist habitats even in climates or places not considered “humid or wet.”


Moss fakers

Plants with moss names that are not true bryophytes or mosses.


Spanish Moss – Tillandsia usneoides


Flowering angiosperm

Club Mosses — Lichopods

Lichopodaceae and Huperziaceae

Spore-bearing plants called fern allies

Reindeer Moss – Cladonia rangiferina



Irish Moss/Scotch Moss

These vascular plants come in pots… hint… because they have roots!

No true moss or bryophyte will ever have roots, flowers or seeds.