21 Different Types of Moss with Pictures

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Mosses are non-flowering, small plants that grow in abundance as green mats in shady and damp areas. There are over 12,000 types of moss that have been discovered to date. 

Mosses can grow almost anywhere and are low-maintenance to the maximum level of convenience. If utilized properly, they can do wonders for garden landscapes. One great way to use moss is to use it as a groundcover for gardens, around the pathway, or around your patio borders.

All gardening enthusiasts will benefit from going through our list of 21 different types of moss and are assured of finding the perfect fit for their garden landscape

1. Common haircap moss

Common haircap moss

Common haircap moss is an evergreen perennial plant distinguished by its wiry spiked shoots that grow up to 40 cm long. This moss matches a display of green fireworks in appearance and is found mostly in damp acidic habitats. 

This is one of the showiest types of moss and is often set apart from other mosses because of its size. A few other unique characteristics of this moss type are: 

  • Leaves lack awns at the tip 
  • Margins of the leaves are toothed
  • The uppermost cells of the leaves are notched rather than rounded.

Other than these distinctive features, the leaves are sometimes tinted brown or red, depending on the weather conditions. Found all year round, this plant will add beauty to any garden landscape it is planted in. 

2. Warnstorf’s Peat Moss

Warnstorf’s Peat Moss

Warnstorf’s peat moss is a slender, medium-sized moss that is purplish-red in color when grown in proper sunlight. However, if you want the moss to have a green color, grow it in the shade. 

Peat mosses are the only moss variety that has an economic value. Mostly used as stable litter due to its ability to absorb and deodorize liquid manure, this moss helps reduce nitrogen loss. Additionally, it even helps in keeping a check on pests. 

Lastly, peat moss is used to make a variety of materials like paper, woven fabrics, gunpowder, and fireworks. 

3. Glittering Wood Moss

Glittering Wood Moss

Glittering wood moss is a bryophyte, which means it is a plant that lacks vascular structures or liquid-conducting tissues—this a larger category of moss and one that occurs in extensive patches of growing mats. 

This moss is a shade-loving plant and will benefit when planted under the canopy of trees or shrubs. Although this moss is prone to shriveling in dry weather conditions, it will swell up when the rain and humidity returns. 

The most common use of glittering wood moss is filling the gaps between logs in wood cabins and also by florists in garden boxes. 

4. Fern Moss 

Fern Moss

Fern moss is one of the simplest types of moss to grow and looks enchanting wherever planted. Popularly known as delicate fern moss, this plant makes a fantastic ground cover or accent. 

This is a fast-growing fern that turns brilliant green in most cases, but it can also turn bright yellow. When dried out, it takes on a sick or lifeless appearance, as opposed to a rich one. Although once hydrated, they immediately return to their former shape. 
Appreciated for its velvety texture and different foliage structure, this moss has a variety of uses. It is an excellent choice for creating a moss lawn or accenting a water feature, like a fountain or pond. Further on, this moss also compliments wooden structures and makes a stunning accent for rocks, logs, and stone walls. 

5. Cord Moss 

Cord Moss

Cord moss is a form of water moss that grows on moist, shady, and damp soil. The reason this species is called cord moss is because of its structure. It has a twisted seta that untwists itself when moist. 

During the rainy season, this plant develops in dense patches or cushions in wet, shaded, and cold areas. Even more beautiful, it has a radial symmetry with an axis or stem, leaves, and multicellular colorless branching rhizoids.

These primordial amphibious plants are multicellular, autotrophic, and shade tolerant. Additionally, they reproduce by producing spores and don’t have a circulatory system. Most commonly found on moist walls and crevices of rocks, this plant is a great landscaping option. 

6. Rigid Beard Moss 

Rigid Beard Moss

The rigid beard moss ranges from black to green in color and stems up to 2 cm. It can be described as a thick carpet of plaited green tresses based upon its appearance and is amongst the few of the exotic-looking mosses. 

It requires partial shade to be dappled or full shade to thrive. Additionally, plant it in chalky soil or limestone for it to grow well.

This plant has mainly two visually enchanting effects:

  • When upright and perked, it looks tidy and displays bright starlets on the surface
  • When low and tangled, it gives off a wild and untamed look

Use it as a ground cover, or plant it between rocks and paving stones for best results. 

7. Heath Star Moss

Heath Star Moss

This is one of the most recognizable and abundantly found types of moss. When dried, it creates dark green or almost black leaves that appear hoary. Stems can reach a length of 5 cm, although they are generally shorter. When the leaves are damp, they are upright and straight, but when dry, they are more appressed, with the hair tip commonly reflexed. 

The nerve width varies from 30 to 70% of the leaf width and extrudes in a toothed, colorless hair point at the base or slightly above. Moreover, the stems of fertile plants contain enlarged nodes at the inflorescences and thin portions in between. 

It is commonly found on rotting logs and old fence posts, on thin soil beside railroad lines, mining waste, shingle, and even roof tiles in exceptional cases. 

8. Catherine’s Moss

Catherine’s Moss

Catherine’s moss also called “Common Smoothcap”, is a distinctive species of moss that has dark green and narrow pointed leaves. These leaves can range from 1 to 7 cm in length, and their margins might be toothed at times. 

When moist, the leaves are undulate. Contrastingly, they become crisp when dry. The spore capsules of this plant are 3-4mm long and have an extremely pointed beak. To top it up, these capsules are cylindrical and curved in shape. 

One will often see this moss growing on bare soil or root masses of overturned trees. 

9. Springy Turf Moss 

Springy Turf Moss

The springy turf moss is one of the most common types of moss and has shoots that may be 10-15 cm long. It can be differentiated by the structure of its leaves. 

The leaves are tapered at the top and bend back to the base at a right angle. Furthermore, the leaves seem to spread out and away from the stem in all directions, giving the shoots a star-like appearance. 

This moss may be found on meadows and lawns all around the world. Each stem is about five inches long and is covered in small pale green leaves with a thick hairy texture that points in the opposite direction as the red stalks.

Remember, springy turf moss is also known as “electrified cat’s tail,” based upon its appearance. 

10. Water Screw Moss

The water screw moss is yellowish-green in color and can grow to be 1-3 cm tall. When seen through a magnifying glass, this moss will look similar to a miniature houseplant, owing to its star-like structure. Not to forget, it grows a rosette of the long and broad tongue-like leaves which give it that structure. 

It thrives in rocky and sandy soil, but it can be grown in clayey and heavy soil too. Try draping it on walls or hanging it on rocks to get the best visual effects, even in wet conditions. 

11. Knight’s Plume Moss

Knight’s Plume Moss

The stems of the knight’s plume moss are symmetrical, thick, and branching, like bird feathers. Furthermore, this pale or yellow-green moss creates carpet-like areas that stand out amid the surrounding plants.

Knight’s plume moss thrives in shady, damp environments and is most commonly found in mesic heath woods. It may be seen growing on the ground as well as on top of deadwood. Other than that, its distribution region even includes the boreal zone.

Knight’s plume moss is made to look like what the plumes knights used to wear on their helmets, hence explaining its name.  

Lastly, this common forest plant does not require any conservation efforts to ensure its survival, making it highly convenient to grow for beginner DIY gardeners. 

12. Pincushion Moss

Pincushion Moss

Pincushion moss grows to form dense cushions of plants that have a low dome shape while being about 12mm to 5 cm in height. The foliage of this plant varies in color, ranging from pale, greyish-green to medium green, while the stems are pale green or brown. 

The common habitats of this plant are grounds of rocky woodlands, shaded hillsides, wooded bluffs and ridges, and well-rotted pine logs. Often found in upland habitats where oak trees are prominent, it co-exists with other types of moss, such as windswept broom moss or Ohio hair cap moss.

13. Baby Tooth Moss

Baby Tooth Moss

This short-lived evergreen perennial has alternate leaves that are arranged horizontally along both sides of a stem. It sometimes looks like a tiny vascular plant that has flattened or complanate leaves. When dry, the leaves curl up and become dark, making the moss look comparatively unattractive. 

Due to the relatively large cell bodies, the leaves appear to be somewhat translucent. Moreover, these leaves have fine sharp teeth along the margins, and even the margins have a translucent membrane. 

This moss is often used by songbirds to create their nests. It is also used for the inner lining of bird nests. Even the four-toed salamander makes use of this plant as a hummock for its eggs. 

14. American Tree Moss

American Tree Moss

As the name implies, this popular and widespread moss is native to North America, where it grows in clumps of thick, velvety green rosette-shaped and gleaming tiny plants.

It grows quickly and has a deep green hue, creating huge carpets that may cover big tree trunks. It also adheres nicely to rocks, fully covering them with its soft leaves.

Here are a couple of important requirements for growing American tree moss: 

  • Partial or dappled shade, since excess light will turn it yellow
  • Organically rich soil with humus 

Like all types of moss, even this is low-maintenance. Use it as a groundcover to add to the beauty of your garden landscape. 

15. Spoon-Leaved Moss

Spoon-Leaved Moss

Spoon-leaved moss is one of the endangered types of moss. It has shiny green to greenish yellow-brown foliage with creeping stems and ascending, intertwined branches forming mats. 

This plant is larger and striking as compared to the other moss varieties. However, its most distinctive feature is the smooth, cylindrical appearance of its stems and branches, particularly when they are dry. 

It will look magnificent when planted in the shaded areas of the garden, in a pot, or in rock gardens. Additionally, when the light is strong, the moss turns into beautiful copper color.

16. Windswept Mood Moss

Windswept Mood Moss

Dicranum scoparium is a fascinating moss commonly known as “Mood Moss” because of its temperamental look. It seems fluffy and lively when properly watered, and it appears weak and fragile when dehydrated.

It produces dense clumps, and the leaves tilt to one side, giving it a windswept appearance regardless of how much moisture it holds.

This is a terrific accent plant for terrariums because of its unusual look, vivid green coloration, and amazing texture.

17. Ribbed Bog Moss

Ribbed Bog Moss

The ribbed bog moss mostly grows in open wetland communities. Most of the moss’s biomass is stored in its stems and is easily visible. The stems grow to be erect, spreading and forming clumps or moss lawns. These clumps often look like feathery spikes that seem stunning when planted between rocks or stones or out of the gravel.

The leaves of this plant are erect-spreading, ovate, and oblong-lanceolate. Not to mention, the margins of the leaves are recurved, entirely or finely serrate at the apex. 

Consider growing it near water, like a spring or pond, to enhance its appearance. 

18. Juniper Moss

Juniper Moss

This type of moss is extremely common and can be found on every continent. Juniper moss, unlike other mosses, loves dry settings and is seldom found growing in damp conditions. It also thrives in exposed areas, whereas most mosses need a protected environment. 

It may be found growing on dry grasslands, woodland trails, quarries, and gravel, among other places. With spiky leaves in rosette-like patterns, although it has an appealing appearance, some people may find it unattractive due to the spikes. 

To take good care of the plant, ensure it gets full sunlight to light shade and moist to dry conditions. Most importantly, it requires acidic mineral soil containing gravel or sand.

Bonus Tip: Planting it in slopy areas will prove beneficial for the plant. 

19. Common Tamarisk Moss

Common Tamarisk Moss

This moss has a lacy appearance. It has fern-like leaves that are brilliant yellow-green. Additionally, it has black stems that contrast with the light green foliage. Unlike most mosses, which need acidic soil, common tamarisk moss thrives in neutral environments. It grows in thick tufts on wet soils and rotting wood.

20. Aloe Haircap Moss

Aloe Haircap Moss

Aloe haircap moss features lovely rosettes of fleshy light yellow-green triangular leaves that become copper in the center.

Matching bromeliads in appearance, they would make an excellent houseplant for little spaces. 

It creates a thick carpet with a “succulent” texture, and the capsules are incredible looking. They are big, white, and fluffy, with a pointy tip that rises far over the leaves.

This is a lovely moss type to use as a focal point in fairy gardens, as a unique resident of rock gardens, or to grow on decaying logs.

21. Fire Moss

Fire Moss

Known for growing new branches on top of existing ones, the fire moss grows in mounds and produces a dense moss carpet. It has thread-like leaves that are bright green in the beginning and become crimson as it matures.

Not to mention, it thrives on nitrogen-rich soils. As a result, one would notice it growing in burned-out regions, thus explaining its name. 


Moss is never thought of as anything more than random patches of green plants. However, when the right types of moss are chosen, they can prove to do wonders for a garden landscape-proving why mosses still remain a popular plant choice among gardening enthusiasts. 

Bonus Read: Don’t have a garden landscape as yet? Check these 7 free landscape design tools to build a design for your dream garden landscaping project.

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