Moss at Cook Forest   Edward Frank
  May 19, 2006 17:42 PDT 


moss01.jpg (242230 bytes)

Has there ever been any studies of the mats of moss growing in some areas of the park - I am thinking up near the Seneca Pine for example?

I wonder how old these Moss mats are - Are they a form of old growth on a small scale compared to the big trees?

BVP is doing quite a bit of work on mosses growing in the canopy of trees in the Pacific Northwest.   I started thinking about this again tonight when I came across an advertisement for a book published by the Oregon State University Press:   "Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses" by Kimmerrer ISBN 0 87071-499-6 $17.99 paper.

What other old growth forms are hiding in front of us within these old growth or primary forests?

Ed Frank

Re: Moss at Cook Forest   Lee Frelich
  May 20, 2006 13:06 PDT 

Ed, Dale:

I don't know of anyone studying moss at Cook forest--yet. However, maybe
that will change since my graduate student Jeri Peck is moving to PA,
because her husband Eric Zenner, the silviculture professor at U of MN, has
accepted a position at Penn State.

Jeri has been studying mosses in the Oregon rain forest, and we will have
several papers coming out soon on moss mat growth and species diversity and
how they respond to harvesting. The forest in Oregon provides most of the
florist and other decorative moss in the U.S.

I have told her about the mats in the old hemlock stands at Cook forest, so
don't be surprised if she shows up asking for locations. She is moving to
PA by the end of May.

Re: Moss at Cook Forest
  May 20, 2006 20:16 PDT 

I have a spot on the property I work with old moss patches. This area was never farmed and retains it's original PH and plants. Great moss all over the hill, but very different than Cook. Would love a fellow Penn Stater to check it out.

Re: Moss at Cook Forest   Edward Frank
  May 20, 2006 20:16 PDT 
Bryophyte Flora of North America 

Mosses -(structure) 

There are approximately 14,500 species of mosses. They are world-wide in distribution and can be found at sea level as well as the highest altitudes occupied by plants. Although they can occur in deserts or be submerged in water, most mosses occupy moist, shaded habitats.

Ohio University Bryophyte Home Page 

The Gleason Moss Collection


Re: Moss at Cook Forest  Dale Luthringer
  May 22, 2006 

Great questions. I don't know of any detailed studies of moss at Cook
Forest, although I have had a few bryologists in the area over the
years. Lee Frelich has some knowledge of that particular site near the
Seneca Pine, but I can't recall all the details although, if I remember
correctly, he suspected there was a specific type of moss growing there
that took quite a long time to become established (~100 years comes to

Dr. Harold (Hank) Webster at Penn State DuBois ( is our
local moss expert. Come to think of it, I need to call him to see if
he'd like to do another seminar for us at Cook this summer. Hank could
probably name a number of mosses he's found at Cook Forest over the
years, and be able to tell you more about their life cycles in terms of
old growth forest.

I just meant Susan Munch (I need to recheck to make sure I got the name
right) last week at training. She just put a new book out on common
mosses of PA. She has worked with Hank over the years also. There
aren't many bryologists out there, so it's a pretty distinguished club.
When I get to the park, I'll try to forward that info to you.

Yes, Robert VanPelt is very knowledgeable on the subject. He pointed a
number of interesting mosses out to me at MTSF in October 2004.

Moss at Cook Forest Hank Webster
24 May 2006


I have been to Cook Forest and have taken a few samples for ID 
(almost secretly). Until recently, plant collecting had been greatly 
restricted in State Parks. The Bryophyte and Lichen Technical 
Committee of the Pennsylvania Biological Survey has recently gained 
permission from DCNR to collect in state parks. It seems that a 
study would be easier to initiate now. As to age and other issues, I 
do not have any specific insight. I can tell you that the moss 
associations are related to the overstory vascular vegetation and to 
the particular microclimate.

If you make contact with this new person, you can give her my and 
Susan's names.

Moss at Cook Forest Dale Luthringer
May 24, 2006

private email

Ed, Hank, Lee, Bob,

Here's the reference info for the new moss & liverworts book. It's probably one of the best books (might be the only one) out there that the public can pick up and not have to know scientific language to understand how to identify them.

Munch, Susan. 2006. 'Outstanding Mosses & Liverworts of Pennsylvania & Nearby States'. Albright College.
ISBN # 0-97670925-7-3 

E-mail Susan to order the book at


Re: Moss at Cook Forest
 May 24, 2006 18:59 PDT 

I think moss is a very under appreciated aspect of the forest and the
picture of the "ghosts" in GSMNP that Will took with moss being the only ancient
"green" left on the trees illustrates how invisible this very complex and
important plant usually is.

There is a lot of concern about the over harvesting of moss from the eastern
national forests as well. Dry, it sells for $.80 to $1/pound in most of WV.
It may not sound like much but an ATV can easily hold a couple hundred
pounds in heavy duty trash bags and most people who broker the stuff pay cash...a
staple in the underground Appalachian economy.

Recently, the Monongahela NF put a moratorium on moss harvesting.

Moss is important breeding habitat for all sorts of reptiles, insects and
amphibians and can hold 20 times it's weight in water...but you probably know
more about that sort of stuff than I ever could.

I'm interested in hearing about research your student is involved with.
Some of the research I have heard about in NC is giving at least 7 years for a
return after harvesting

Have you seen the report "An assessment of commercial "moss" harvesting from
the Pacific NW and Appalachian mountains of the eastern much is sold
and what species are involved.    The report was put out by a professor Muir
at Oregon State University in late 2004.

If you have not, please let me know. I have the report as a pdf document I
can e-mail you a copy.

Re: Moss at Cook Forest   Lee E. Frelich
  May 25, 2006 08:44 PDT 


Pat Muir was Jeri Peck's (my current Ph.D. student) advisor for her Masters
work at Oregon State. So, I already have the report you mention and Jeri
has several new manuscripts in preparation on the topic as well. We will
let you know when papers are published.

Re: Moss at Cook Forest   Lee Frelich
  May 24, 2006 16:28 PDT 


People get permits from the Forest Service to go out and strip moss from
the forest, mostly from vine maples in the understory. This moss is used
for hanging baskets linings, and other decorative uses by florists. People
in rural Oregon sell the moss they harvest as supplemental income.

My graduate student is studying how fast the moss grows back so that the
Forest Service can set a rotation for harvesting the same stand again. It
looks like it will be 20 years or more before the moss grows back to
harvestable levels on a given branch.


At 08:52 PM 5/22/2006, Elizabeth Manus wrote:

What do you mean "The forest in Oregon provides most of
the florist and other decorative moss in the U.S."