Ceratodon purpureus: Fire Moss


photo taken on March 12


photo taken on March 18

(written by Sophia, age 10)

This type of moss can live in very polluted areas like by the side of the road. We found some of this moss across the street on a rotting stump. When it is early spring the Fire Moss sends up green stalks, and as the moss gets older the stalks become red. The height is about 3 centimeters. The other names for this moss include Purple horn toothed moss, Ceratodon moss, and fire moss.

The most interesting things about fire moss are 1) that it can tolerate much higher pollution levels than other types of mosses, 2) that it can be found all over the world except in places north of Zone 2 (where the average minimum temperature is -50 degrees F), and 3) that its spores can remain viable after drying for 16 years.

There is a chart below forthe Fire mosses taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Bryophyta
Class: Bryopsida
Subclass: Dicranidae
Order: Dicranales
Family: Ditrichaceae
Genus: Ceratodon
Species: C. purpureus
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