Mini forests

Often overlooked but no less beautiful are the so called lower plants or Bryophytes. These consist of mosses and liverworts which can be quite spectacular when you get up close – usually on your hands and knees!

It’s like a little forest fairy kingdom which you will generally find in wet or damp places as water plays a big part in completing their life cycles.

There are many different species and usually a number of different types can be found in the same community, on top of a old tree stump or occupying a sheltered bank.
What you are seeing in most instances is the sexual phase of the life cycle or gametophyte from which a sporophyte grows once fertilisation has taken place. These tall structures produce spores which are then released to grow into the next generation.
These are the sporophytes of Polytrichium moss  – fine filaments emerging from the “forest”below.
Here’s a close up:
I don’t think these are fully mature yet and will develop further to produce their spores ready for release to the wind.
Next time you come across some, it’s worth a closer look even though it might look like you are saying a little prayer!

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