The Science Of Tree Moss (Tree Apron Moss, Tree Skirt Moss, Poodle Moss, or Anomodon Moss)

Tree moss

Tree Moss is scientifically known as Anomodon attenuatus, but is also known by other common names such as Tree Apron Moss, Tree Skirt Moss, Poodle Moss, or Anomodon Moss. This moss species can be found on tree trunks where it creates a lush, green apron around them. Below, we will cover the scientific name, synonyms and common names, taxonomy, habitat, distribution, ecological importance, and physical characteristics of this beautiful moss species.

1. Scientific Name

The scientific name for Tree Moss is ‘Anomodon attenuatus‘.

2. Synonyms & Common Names

Anomodon attenuatus is a moss species that goes by several common names including Tree Moss, Tree Apron Moss, Tree-Skirt Moss, Poodle Moss, and Anomodon Moss.

Tree Moss: This is the most common name for this moss species because it grows at the bases of trees.

Tree Apron Moss: This name originates from the moss’s original growth pattern. Anomodon attenuatus grow at the the base of a tree and grows around them in a similar way to an apron.

Tree Skirt Moss: Similar to the term “Tree Apron Moss,” the name “Tree-Skirt Moss” orginitaes from the fact that this moss species dresses a tree in a ‘skirt’ of moss around its base.

Poodle Moss: The nickname “Poodle Moss” has been given because of the the texture and appearance of this moss because it can resemble the curly fur of a poodle.

Anomodon Moss: This last common name directly refers to the genus to which Anomodon attenuatus belongs as you can see below in its taxonomic classification.

3. Taxonomic Classification

The taxonomic classification of Anomodon attenuatus is as follows:

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Division: Bryophyta
  • Class: Bryopsida
  • Order: Leucodontales
  • Family: Anomodontaceae
  • Genus: Anomodon
  • Species: Anomodon attenuatus

4. Habitat of Tree Moss

This moss species thrives in moist, but shaded forests and prefers trunks and bases of trees. You can find it in deciduous forests but it is also adapted to survive on the lower parts of the conifers. The reason it prefers tree bases is due to the microhabitat’s moisture retention and this offers a stable environment for growth.

4.1 Forests

Tree Moss can often be found in temperate forests. There, it contributes to the lush greenery by covering tree bases and sometimes rocks with its dense mats and provides a microhabitat for insects and small mammals.

4.2 Adaptations to Tree Bases

This moss has developed specific adaptations to thrive on tree substrates and become a super-specialist to this niche of nature. It has developed a strong holdfast system which allows it to cling to the bark of a tree and it can deal with the moisture and light conditions found at the base of these trees.

5. Distribution

Anomodon attenuatus is widely distributed across the Northern Hemisphere. You may find it in North America, in Europe, but also in parts of Asia in forest ecosystems where the conditions are favorable.

In North America, Tree Moss is a common sight in the eastern United States and Canada and can be found mainly in deciduous forests. This moss species is also domesticated and used in gardens to cover the base of trees. You can buy Tree moss here.

This plant is also distributed across the continent of Europe and is present in the forests of Scandinavia, on the British Isles, and throughout central Europe. But it doesn’t stop there. Its range extends far into Asia, where it grows on the tree bases of their temperate forests.

6. Ecological Importance

Tree Moss is important for local ecosystems because it contributes to biodiversity, moisture regulation, and the formation of habitats.

  • Biodiversity: As part of the undergrowth of a forest, this moss species supports the lives of microorganisms and invertebrates, and therefore enriches the local biodiversity.
  • Moisture Regulation: Tree Moss retains moisture and helps to maintain a stable microclimate around the base of a tree which will benefit other plants and organisms.
  • Habitat Formation: The dense mats of Anomodon attenuatus create habitats for insects and nesting materials for small wildlife.

7. Physical Characteristics

You can recognize Tree Arpon moss by its green to yellow-green color and their mat-like structures around the bases of trees. The color can be bright green when it lives in moist conditions but also yellow-green when the area experiences periods of dryness.

Close up of tree moss
Close-up of tree moss (credit to: HermannSchachner)

This moss has a very distinctive growth form. It has shoots that spread out and attach themselves to the substrate which creates a carpet-like appearance.

The leaves are elongated and mostly curved. The individual plants are small but when it spreads, a colony of tis moss can cover large areas of forests. The texture of this plant is soft and pliable when the plant is moist and healthy.

Leaves of tree moss
The leaves of tree moss

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