Nature Photography

Moss Going Weird in an Early Thaw

Ah, botanists, I have a mystery here. Perhaps you can help. What on earth is this moss in the image below? I was walking up on the Bella Vista Hills above Okanagan Lake, at the 650 metre level, where the snow is melting in patches among the sagebrush and the rock outcroppings, when I came across this stuff… P1050250It looks like moss, but it has lifted up in long, transparent filaments, frozen in place, probably by thawing and re-freezing weather. It comes in big patches, following deer trails or waterways, like this:

P1050254That image above is not “dug up” by animals, although they have walked through it (they walk through everything up there.) Much of this territory looks like this:

P1050245Here it is again, from slightly further away:

P1050243What on earth is going on? Here’s some moss, growing on rock and behaving normally for this early, high grassland spring…

P1050227 Closer up, it looks like this:


Not like this:

P1050249What’s going on? Anyone know?






2 replies »

  1. Yes, it is caused by freezing. The water gets pushed up as it expands and it pushes up anything on top of it. I have found many areas of dirt, small rocks like this. Moss, because it doesn’t have roots like most thinks is most susceptible to this action. It is wonderful, eh?


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