Moisture and nutrients are essential to the survival of all plants, yet not all plants get these things in the same manner. Tubes that draw water and minerals from the ground are used to provide vascular plants, which include vegetables, blooming plants, ornamental shrubs, and trees, with the nutrients they need. Plants that do not have vascular systems, on the other hand, do not have this form of plumbing and instead take in water and nutrients directly via their outside surfaces. Both kinds may collaborate in your garden to make the distribution of water and nutrients more efficient across all of your different kinds of plants.
The Nonvascular Process
Nonvascular plants, such as mosses (Bryophyta), liverworts (Hepatophyta), and hornworts (Anthocerophyta), are thought to be among the earliest plants. These plants take in moisture and nutrients through a process known as osmosis, which involves the movement of those substances back and forth through a thin outer membrane. The substances are temporarily stored in plant tissues. A mechanism known as diffusion is responsible for the movement of moisture and nutrients away from plant tissue. Since mosses, liverworts, and hornworts are so little in size, it does not take very long for them to take in enough moisture to equal their weight. Stomata are specialised apertures that are found on the outer membranes of plants. These openings are intended to partly shut after the maximum quantity of available moisture has been eaten, therefore avoiding the loss of moisture.
Nonvascular plants may be found in the arctic as well as in hot, desert regions, cold, alpine places, and everything in between. There are over 10,000 different varieties of moss, including the narrow-leaved Atrichum (Atrichum angustatum), which may be found in woodlands as well as on lawns, and the woodsy Mnium (Plagiomnium cuspidatum), which thrives in shaded locations that are covered in compacted soil. There are around 6,000 different species of liverwort. Plagiochila porelloides, also known as common feather liverwort, may be found growing in mats on damp rocks or at the roots of trees in damp regions. There are around 200 different species of hornwort, including the Carolina hornwort (Phaeoceros carolinianus). It is characterised by broad growths that resemble leaves and may be seen growing beside forested trails and waterways.
Because they lack the mechanisms to absorb and store significant quantities of water, mosses, liverworts, and hornworts do not grow very big. In some circumstances, their maximum height is no more than 1 or 2 inches. This is because they are unable to retain vast amounts of water. Mosses have the appearance of thick carpets because they are made up of hundreds of very small plants that grow in close proximity to one another. Every single one of the minuscule moss plants maintains its own upright position amid the others, and the tight growth pattern of the plants ensures that no moisture is lost among them. It’s common to mistake liverworts and hornworts for little leaves because of the way they grow flat on rocks or dirt. The reproductive organs of these two different types of plants are the sole distinguishing feature between them. Additionally, the fact that various species of mosses and liverworts have extremely similar features and often grow together in the same location might make it difficult to identify the species in question.
According to a document from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), mosses, liverworts, and hornworts are responsible for regulating the temperature and moisture in their specific environments. The plants also contribute to the improvement of the nutrient cycle because they gather bacteria that fix nitrogen and nutrients that have been deposited by rain and dust. The fact that these plants are growing in your yard is usually an indication that the soil is sufficiently healthy and wet to support further plant life, such as the blooming annuals and perennials that are some of your favourites. In addition, dense carpets of moss encourage the establishment of mycorrhizal fungi, which, when combined with the roots of vascular plants, improve the soil’s and plants’ ability to absorb nutrients and moisture. Whether mosses appear in your garden because of natural processes or because you purposefully plant them there, their presence may be beneficial to the whole space.