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Types of mosses and their characteristics

Types of mosses

Mosses are 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 plant that live in conditions of abundant humidity.

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

What are mosses – definition

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

In general, mosses are small plants since they do not have support organs that allow large structures. However, mosses can spread, covering large vertical and horizontal surfaces as 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 bright green in color since they are chlorophyll plants capable of photosynthesis thanks to chlorophyll. They need 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 AgroCorrn article about 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 can form plant masses of remarkable size in an environment. Given their great diversity, mosses are classified into 8 different classes :

  • 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 macrocarpa mosses, 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 pleurocarps are quite well known, such as the so-called nativity scene moss.

Another Bryopsida worth mentioning is the Buxbaumiales. The predominant part in most mosses is the gametophyte, which 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



Usually called sphagnum, the class members are mosses that are very easy to recognize due to their particular morphology, reminiscent of small succulent or succulent plants.

They are the creators and a vital component of a unique ecosystem: the raised 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: 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 minimal 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 about 370 mosses of this class, among which are the largest, such as the Australian Dawsonia superba, which is 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 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 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 in different plants. In addition, 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 found in the colder areas of America and Eurasia and some islands of 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 infrequent in the southern hemisphere, practically all being in the north.

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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