For scale, fallen needles are 1" long.
Mosses are able to colonize almost any available location, capitalizing on the cracks formed in rocks, and fascilitating the spread of the cracks by retaining water. Combined with the "rock eating" effects of lichens, is how rocks are broken down into smaller pieces, eventually small enough to become useful as soluble minerals available to "higher" plants.
Rivaling the beauty and toughness of alpine plants
|Moss capitalizing on an extremely thin crack in this sedimentary rock.|
|Moss and lichen will eventually reduce this rock to dust.|
|This plant is less than one half inch wide.|
|Concrete retaining wall|
In my garden, weedy plants like Cardamine hirsuta and Heircium sp. seed freely in these mossy spaces, as well as garden plants like Borago and Calendula. Ian Young of the SRGC Bulb Log (see Link List, top right of page) has featured many mossy troughs that have been good places to start seeds of the alpines that he grows. This is probably common in nature where bare soil is rare, like high elevation rocky outcrops. The moss both captures small seed, and holds the moisture to germinate it. Eventually, the moss breaks down and helps create the beginning of what will eventually become soil.
Though other plants (besides mistletoe) do not grow directly on live oak trees, the spongy quick decaying dead wood may be in part due to the variety of organisms that live on it in its living state. This does eventually break down into the soil.
|Rooftop on the North side of my house|