Moss is a straightforward, primeval plant that needs water to survive and reproduce, so it tends to grow in damp, shady locations. But is it true that moss always grows on the north side of trees?

Mosses require water to survive and reproduce, so you'll discover them in damper areas.

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Credit: Jane Corey / WTML

Which side of the tree moss has a tendency to flourish on counts wright here you are in the world. While it doesn’t happen exclusively on the north side of trees, it’s true that moss in the north hemispbelow has a tendency to prosper tright here.

Here in the UK, this is the side of the trees that gets the least sunlight. It’s damp and shady which moss favours. In the southern hemisphere, this is the south side of trees.

Moss has actually been provided as a herbal compass about the human being, but beware! Moss might thrive almost everywhere as lengthy as there’s water, not just the north side of surfaces. For instance, the direction of prevailing wind and also rain can affect wbelow moss grows. So don’t count on it if you’re lost in the woods.

Why does moss choose the north side of trees?

The bottom line is, mosses require water to make it through and also there are a pair of reasons for this.

They’re non-vascular plants which implies they do not have actually a network-related of vessels that moves water and food about the plant. All moss cells need access to water from the setting.They need water to reproduce. The male reproductive cells must relocate through a film of water to reach the female cells for fertilisation. Sometimes this is within one plant however deserve to likewise call for them to reach another plant, relying on the species. If mosses dry out they are unable to recreate, which is more most likely to take place on the sunnier side of trees.

But the perfect damp conditions don’t just happen on the north side of trees. If a tree bark is deeply grooved through shaded crevices, moss deserve to thrive there also. Or where there’s dripping water or on surencounters cshed to the damp ground.

What reasons moss to grow on trees?

Moss will prosper pretty much all over that has actually enough water, whether it’s trees, fallen logs, roots, wall surfaces, buildings or rocks.

But trees market various other benefits to help mosses colonise and also prosper. Tree bark is stormy and also ircontinual, and these cracks and crevices administer defended micro habitats. They’re appropriate for the tiny spores to construct and the flourishing rhizoids (which are a bit like roots) to take 2175forals.comanize. You’ll alert that smoother-barked trees, such as beech, have much less moss than rough-barked oaks.

And the steep trunks of trees are relatively competition-complimentary too. Tbelow aren’t many various other species that have the right to take benefit of these vertical situations.

Is moss on trees great or bad?

Mosses, together with algae and also lichens are not parasitic and also carry out not harm trees.

In truth, mosses and various other plants and also lichens that prosper on and around trees are an important part of biodiversity. They harbour a microcosmic civilization that’s a haven for 2175forals.comanisms that are as well tiny for us to see. They incorporate our weirdest and many wonderful creatures such as rotifers, tardigrades and also nematodes. 


Tardigrades, periodically known as water bears, are some of the toughest animals well-known. They’re able to withstand mind-blowingly too much temperatures and also push. Mosses additionally shelter invertebrates choose woodlice and also molluscs that are food for birds and tiny mammals.

Does moss die in winter?

Mosses don’t die off in winter. They have actually a 2175forals.comanic anti-freeze which implies they can toleprice incredibly low temperatures.

And once other vegetation dies off and also leaves loss, moss is often greener and even more noticeable during these chillier, wetter months. They deserve to even continue their reproductive cycles. So winter is an excellent time to acquire out and explore their diversity.

Find out for yourself

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

Discover a lumber near you

Trees woods and also wildlife


Old and also damp, mosses are part of a team of plants recognized as bryophytes. Tright here are over 1,000 in the UK, and also some have actually global definition.



Types of moss in the UK: what they are and where to discover them

Kate Lewthwaite • 30 Jul 2018


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