Mosses are not quite what you would call one of the biggest eye catchers in the Alps. The jaw-dropping mountain views, an encounter with a wild alpine ibex or a colourful carpet of alpine flowers aren’t things a patch of moss can easily match. However, mosses line the floors of the Alps and are very special!
From the “old world”
Mosses remind us about a time before flowering plants emerged. Flowers are a relatively new “invention” in plant evolution. Before flowering plants brightened up our planet with their beautiful colours, many species reproduced using spores. In our forests today, you can still find plenty of these spore-producing plants with ancient lineages, and mosses are one of them. The picture above shows a patch of moss with sporophytes (the stalk-like forms) on a fallen tree. No colourful flowers, but still very beautiful, isn’t it?
Other spore producing plants
Ferns are similar to mosses, in that they have neither seeds nor flowers, and reproduce through spores. The picture below shows spores underneath a fern’s fronds where they grow in little clusters called sori. Although it’s not a jaw-dropping mountain view, it’s pretty artsy-looking, don’t you think?
Lichen, like ferns and mosses, also produce spores, but lichen aren’t like anything else in the plant kingdom. If you’d like to read more about lichen, read my article on ‘Why are lichen so special?’.