Moss

An unassuming patch of bare soil, next to the trail:

On closer inspection:

…about a dozen exquisite little moss plants, each growing as a solitary spike.

The tufts at the base of each spike are the photosynthetic “leaves” (mosses don’t have “true” leaves with stems and veins, just flattened leaflets). The swelling at the tip is the “shaker” from which spores are dispersed.

I don’t know the name of this species. But, it is surely one of the species that specializes on colonizing freshly bared ground. These little patches of habitat don’t last long, so the mosses grow just a small tuft of greenery, then put out their spore-shakers — moving on to the next open ground before their little patch gets swallowed up by other plants. Other moss species, like the one shown below that I found a couple of days ago on another trail, grow thick mats of greenery and stay put, digging in for the long run. They tend to grow on rock, where the competition isn’t so tough.

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