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more moss madness

Hello on this last Friday of May. Me, I’m not mentally prepared for the fact that it will be June on Monday.


On the disease side, we’re still seeing large patch in zoysiagrass but the grass in the centers is starting to recover (see photo). I even had a sample of large patch from a zoysia home lawn, which is not very common. I’m also seeing continued spring dead spot in bermudagrass.

We finally have the first dollar spot activity at our turf research facility, and our first applications for summer trials went down yesterday. I accidentally hooked up the wrong nozzles at first, but we quickly sorted out the problem ("Hmm, why is there so much solution left in the bottle?"), exchanged nozzles, and everything was fine.


I made a few comments on moss last week, and I thought I’d share a few more.

1) How does moss spread?

Most mosses can spread by two mechanisms, vegetative (asexual) as well as sexually.

With vegetative spread, little chunks of the moss tissue physically break off and spread as clones (=genetically identical) of the mother plant. This probably happens on mowers and other equipment as well as rainfall. The first photo is little moss chunks floating in rainwater. That photo was sent to me by my colleague Dr. Derek Settle of the Chicago District Golf Association.

This kind of spread is somewhat analogous to turf pathogens such as Sclerotinia homoeocarpa (dollar spot) or Rhizoctonia solani (brown patch) which do not produce spores but rather spread as chunks of mycelium or sclerotia.

The next photo shows the sexual stage of moss. Moss plants produce male and female gametes which combine to form this small stalk with a capsule at the top. This life stage is called the sporophyte. In the capsule, spores are formed. The spores then disperse and form new gametophytes (the typical cushion-type growth).

2) Where are mosses found in nature?

Most mosses are found in moist environments. The old adage is that if you are lost and can’t determine compass directions, you can look for moss on tree trunks. Since moss prefers shade, the moss is most likely to be on the north side. I’ve never been lost enough to resort to that, but I have seen the pattern.

However, the most common moss on golf courses, silvery thread moss (Bryum argenteum) seems to be happy almost everywhere. It can tolerate heat, drought, and extreme cold. Silvery thread moss is actually a dominant plant species in Antarctica! Throughout the world, it has been found on mountain tops and at sea level. No wonder this stuff can be such a pain. It can thrive anywhere.

3) “Where is Moss Man?”

This question was posted by my colleague Frank Wong. Awhile back, I shared with Frank and some others that while thinking about moss I had a sudden flashback to my youth and the character “Moss Man” on the cartoon “He-Man.”

You can find information about Moss Man on Wikipedia, and I just checked eBay, and you can buy your very own action figure there, unless I beat you to it.

One response to “more moss madness”

John said...

I thought I would add to the photo fun!


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