8 TYPES of MOSSES - Names, characteristics and PHOTOS

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Mosses are a much more varied vegetation than you might think at first. These primitive plants are of great natural importance, as they are vital as colonizers and regulators in all types of habitats. Mosses are a type of bryophyte plants that live in conditions of abundant humidity.

If you want to learn more about the different types of mosses, join us in this Green Ecologist article in which we talk about 8 types of mosses, their scientific names, characteristics and photos so you can identify them more easily.

What are mosses - definition

Mosses are a type of bryophyte plants, along with liverworts and hornworts. All bryophytes are non-vascular plants, which means that they are a primitive type of vegetation that does not have xylems or phloemes to transport their nutrients and substances internally. Learn more about Bryophyte Plants: examples and characteristics in this other post.

Mosses are usually small size plants, since they do not have support organs that allow large structures, although mosses can spread, covering large vertical and horizontal surfaces like a carpet or tapestry.

They cling to surfaces with organs called rhizoids, similar to small roots, but with the sole function of providing grip. Generally, they are vivid green color, since they are chlorophyll plants, capable of photosynthesis thanks to chlorophyll. They need a abundant humidity, so they tend to grow in humid areas or next to large bodies of water, usually in the shade.

Expand this information with this other Green Ecologist article on Mosses: what they are, characteristics and examples.

Types of mosses - list of names

Of all bryophyte plants, only mosses account for about 70%. These, in addition to being numerous, are very varied, and are also the only bryophyte plants that come to form plant masses of remarkable size in an environment. Given its great diversity, mosses are classified into 8 classes different:

  • Bryopsida.
  • Sphagnopsida.
  • Andreaeopsida.
  • Polytrichopsida.
  • Takakiopsida.
  • Andreaeobryopsida.
  • Tetraphidopsida.
  • Oedipodiopsida.


This is by far the most abundant and representative class of mosses: 95% of all of them are included here. Given their large number, it is also quite varied.

Most of them are divided into acrocarpic mosses, among which are some of the most drought-resistant mosses, and pleurocarps, growing much more horizontally than the previous ones and giving rise to grass-like aspects. Some pleurocarpals are quite well known, such as the so-called nativity scene moss.

Other Bryopsida worth mentioning are the Buxbaumiales, in which the gametophyte, which is the predominant part in most mosses, is drastically reduced, even becoming microscopic, thus leaving only the sporophyte capsule visible.

Some examples of bryopsida mosses are:

  • Diphyscium foliosum
  • Buxbaumia viridis
  • Pleurochaete squarrosa
  • Pseudoscleropodium purum


Habitually called sphagnumThe members of this class are mosses that are very easy to recognize due to their particular morphology, which is very reminiscent of small succulent or succulent plants.

They are the creators and a vital component of an entire unique ecosystem: the tall bogs. In addition, they are one of the few mosses that have had an economic impact on humans, since in World War I they were used to make bandages. This was due to its enormous water absorption capacity: a sphagnum can absorb up to 20 times its dry weight in water.


These mosses grow in cold climates, usually on siliceous rocks. They are reddish or dark in color, and form very small vegetation. There are about 100 types of mosses of this class and they stand out for their particular capsules, with a shape reminiscent of a Chinese lantern.


There are around of 370 mosses of this kind, among which are the largest mosses, like the australian Dawsonia superba, almost 50 centimeters high. They are mosses of great complexity in their anatomy, with specialized cells for the conduction of water and sugars. Other names for mosses in this class are Oligotrichum hercynium and the Pogonatum urginerum.


This class of mosses was not discovered until the 19th century, when it was found in the Himalayan mountains. They are species with only 4 chromosomes per cell, very fragile and with a size by below 1 centimeter.


Until 2000, this class was considered part of the Andreaeopsida. However, differences were found between both classes, since the Andreaeobryopsida are dioecious, which means that the female and male sexual organs are found on different plants. Also, these mosses have mushrooms that support the capsules.

Tetraphidopsida and Oedipodiopsida

These two kinds of mosses are rare and very few in number. In fact, the Oedipodiopsida are formed exclusively by the species Oedipodium griffithianum, a moss that can be found in colder areas of America and Eurasia, as well as some islands in the North Atlantic.

The Tetraphidopsida are divided into two distinct genera, the Tetrodontium and the Tetraphis, with only two species each. They are mosses that have a large amount of chlorophyll and are recognized by their rhizoid bases. They are very rare in the southern hemisphere, practically all in the north.

If you want to read more articles similar to Types of mosses, we recommend that you enter our Biology category.

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