25 March 2008

The greatest conservationists have no brains

They are simple, slow – and when times are bad, not even green.

These, just outside my door, were brown and hard as scabs, and as lively as students after all-nighters for most of the past 10 years of drought.

But after rain:

moss Triquetrella papillata with capsule
Bryophytes do not have roots, but are anchored by fine, hair-like rhizoids. Some species have a waxy covering and other adaptations that reduce water loss, but most do not, so that it might be expected that they cannot cope with desiccation for very long. Yet most have the remarkable ability to dry out almost to a crisp, then rehydrate with the first drop of rain and begin to photosynthesise almost immediately.
– David Meagher and Bruce Fuhrer, A field guide to the mosses & allied plants of southern Australia, Australian Biological Resources Study and The Field Naturalists Club of Victoria
Triquetrella papillata

A moss is a university, so much could we learn from it. Yet we treat mosses and their allies like codfish and the sea.
There is a lot of worry about how Sphagnum is being harvested for horticulture. I remember the time I opened a bale of Sphagnum and found a tiny, dead pitcher plant dried up with the moss. It broke my heart.
– Kay Klier, Biology Department, UNI, What is this controversy I hear about Sphagnum and peat bogs? The International Carnivorous Plant Society
(Another must-read from the Society: Are there any vegetarian carnivorous plants?)

No comments: