Glowing Moss!

On a hot, smoky day in mid-August, over a hundred citizen scientists descended upon Stanley Park to take part in the Canada150 BioBlitz flagship event. These dedicated nature enthusiasts had one goal in mind: to document as many species in the Park as possible over a two day period. (You can check out the complete BioBlitz species list here.)As a result of their efforts, many amazing discoveries were made, including the now famous Lost Lagoon “Blob.” However, another equally spooky species was found in the Park that day: Schistostega pennata or goblin moss as it is more commonly called. 

Goblin moss in Stanley Park (Photo: L Hurteau)

 

What makes this moss so unique is that it appears to glow in the dark. Goblin moss has special shaped cells that are curved on one side helping to reflect light of the green chloroplast cells nearby to create a greenish glow. Easily out-competed by other mosses and plant species in more well-lit areas, goblin moss developed the capacity to store and reflect minute amounts of light so it could grow in darker places where other species cannot. Goblin moss thrives in dark, damp areas with rich soil and low levels of light. A good place to check for goblin moss is on overturned tree roots, near shallow pools of water, or even near the entrance to animal burrows.

Next time you are out exploring the dank, dark corners of Stanley Park, keep an eye out for this illuminating species and don’t forget to send us a picture if you spot it. Share your shots with us on Instagram @stanleyparkecology.

By Michael Murray, Development Assistant