Moss is a simple, primeval tree that demands water to survive and also reproduce, therefore it has tendency to thrive in damp, shady places. Yet is the true the moss always grows top top the north next of trees?

Mosses require water to survive and reproduce, for this reason you'll find them in damper areas.

You are watching: Does moss really grow on the northside of trees

Credit: jane Corey / WTML

Which next of the tree moss tends to flourish on depends where you space in the world. While it no occur solely on the north side of trees, it’s true the moss in the northern hemisphere often tends to flourish there.

Here in the UK, this is the side of the trees that gets the least sunlight. That damp and also shady i m sorry moss favours. In the southerly hemisphere, this is the southern side that trees.

Moss has been offered as a natural compass roughly the world, yet beware! Moss might grow all over as long as there’s water, not simply the north side of surfaces. Because that instance, the direction of prevailing wind and also rain deserve to influence whereby moss grows. So don’t depend on it if you’re lost in the woods.

Why does moss favor the north side of trees?

The bottom line is, mosses need water to survive and also there are a pair of reasons for this.

They’re non-vascular tree which means they don"t have actually a network the vessels that moves water and also food about the plant. Every moss cells need access to water from the environment.They require water to reproduce. The masculine reproductive cells need to move via a film of water to reach the female cells because that fertilisation. Sometimes this is within one plant yet can also require them to reach another plant, depending on the species. If mosses dry out they space unable come reproduce, which is an ext likely to happen on the sunnier side of trees.

But the perfect damp problems don’t just occur on the north side of trees. If a tree bark is deeply grooved v shaded crevices, moss can grow there too. Or wherein there’s dripping water or on surfaces close to the wet ground.

What reasons moss to thrive on trees?

Moss will flourish pretty much everywhere that has sufficient water, even if it is it’s trees, fallen logs, roots, walls, buildings or rocks.

But trees offer various other benefits to aid mosses colonise and flourish. Tree bark is rough and irregular, and also these cracks and also crevices carry out protected micro habitats. They’re right for the tiny spores come develop and also the farming rhizoids (which are a little bit like roots) to take it hold. You’ll notification that smoother-barked trees, such together beech, have less moss 보다 rough-barked oaks.

And the steep trunks of trees are reasonably competition-free too. There aren’t numerous other types that can take advantage of this vertical situations.

Is moss top top trees good or bad?

Mosses, in addition to algae and lichens are not parasitic and do not harm trees.

In fact, mosses and also other plants and lichens that grow on and also around trees are vital part that biodiversity. Castle harbour a microcosmic civilization that’s a haven because that ubraintv-jp.comanisms that are too tiny for us to see. They incorporate our weirdest and most exorbitant creatures such together rotifers, tardigrades and also nematodes. 


Tardigrades, sometimes recognized as water bears, are some of the toughest pets known. They’re maybe to withstand mind-blowingly too much temperatures and also pressure. Mosses additionally shelter invertebrates like woodlice and molluscs that room food because that birds and tiny mammals.

Does moss dice in winter?

Mosses don’t die off in winter. They have a herbal anti-freeze which means they deserve to tolerate an extremely low temperatures.

And when other vegetation dies off and leaves fall, moss is frequently greener and much more noticeable throughout these colder, wetter months. They can even proceed their reproductive cycles. For this reason winter is a good time to obtain out and explore their diversity.

find out for you yourself

Go top top a moss hunt and explore the theory. Which side of the tree walk it flourish on?

find a wood close to you

Trees woods and wildlife


Ancient and damp, mosses are component of a group of plants recognized as bryophytes. There room over 1,000 in the UK, and some have worldwide significance.



species of moss in the UK: what castle are and where to find them

Kate Lewthwaite • 30 Jul 2018


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