Field of Science

Wild Moss Video

I decided to search on YouTube this afternoon to see if there were any interesting videos of mosses and I came across this one. Its title is Spinning Plant Thing and the video along with comments regarding it can be seen here. It is a pretty entertaining video and a fun example of people observing the world around them, but having no idea what they are looking at. My favorite part is when they hypothesize that it is an alien!

What they are actually observing is a moss sporophyte, which consists of a stalk and capsule at the top. The moss species is most likely Funaria hygrometrica. (You can see the leafy gametophyte of this species in my post from October 5th.)
I can also explain the spinning. Funaria hygrometrica's common name is the cord moss, because the stalk that holds the capsule is very twisted when dry, like a cord of rope. When they add water it is absorbed into the cells and they straighten out and untwist the stalk. As the moss dries back up it twists again. This phenomenon is due to the arrangement of the cells in the stalk. The sporophyte is actually attached to the leafy green gametophyte part of the moss that it sticking out of. That part is hard to see in the video but they notice it is growing out of a patch of moss. I don't blame them for thinking that they were looking at two different plants the sporophyte and gametophyte of mosses look very different. One is leafy and green, while the other is leafless and usually yellow or brown. The part that people usually think of when they think of a moss is the leafy green portion.


  1. I think it's pretty awesome that you wrote an article about my video.

    I found another moss thing today. The movie is called Weird Tree Moss and its on my youtube account.

  2. Awesome! I will check it out this afternoon.

  3. Very entertaining! I just discovered your blog and as a big fan of moss, it's a pleasure to read. Please keep us informed! I saw incredible mosses at Te Anau National park, and Fiordlands National park on a trip through N.Z. last year. They 'floored' me.


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