The lawn is not a bowling green at the moment. In fact after the winter I’m not sure it can be called a lawn anymore. With more moss than grass in many areas I could be prosecuted under the Trades Description Act. One of the mosses growing is quite smart though, with red stems and small, neat egg shaped leaves. The way on which these leaves are arranged at the tip where they are closely rolled-up to form a smooth needle-like or spear-like point gives it the English name of Pointed Spear-moss. The Latin name as usual is less memorable – Calliergonella cuspidata.
This is a common moss, well at least in my garden, and grows readily in moist, base-rich habitats, such as marshes, mires and flushes, in grassland, and among rocks. On some soils, for example clay, it frequently occurs in lawns – to that I can attest. So there will have to be some work undertaken to bring the grass back soon.
With the growing challenge of pathogen resistance to antibiotics the search is on for new and novel drugs for the future. Recently mosses have been dragooned into this fight, and in one research paper is has been suggested that Calliergonella cuspidata, along with other mosses may be able of use. An ethanolic extract of the from C.cuspidata exhibits antimicrobial activity against several gram positive and gram negative microorganisms. But this is early days and we’ll have to wait for a definitive answer.
C.cuspidata has been shown to be useful in monitor metal contamination of water courses. The metals are absorbed as it grows and then when processed and the results analysed in the laboratory, give an indication of the contamination present in the water.