“As Mystical as any Tree”

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This book will have you reaching for your hand lens. Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses is a wonderfully accessible and lyrical look at a largely-unseen world at our feet. Drawing on her career as a Professor of Forest Biology at SUNY, as well as her Native American heritage, Kimmerer has written several books in one. As Janisse Ray writes: “this is so much more than a book about mosses. This is a Native American woman speaking. This is a mother’s story. This is science revealed through the human psyche. Hers is a spectacularly different view of the world, and her true voice needs to be heard.

Gathering Moss was awarded the 2005 John Burroughs Medal for distinguished nature writing. Nearby on the Land Library’s shelves, you’ll find an equally fascinating book:

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George Schenk’s love for his subject is clear from the first page: “The moss plant earns our respect, even our sense of awe, as one of the world’s lengthier successes in the business of living….We pause to study moss, especially after a rain, and carry away a lasting impression of a plant velvety green and vibrant and yet soothing. Moss is a human experience well noted.

While Moss Gardening is decidedly a gardening book, any naturalist will be able to gain valuable insights into this elfin world. Happily, Schenk’s unique focus allows for lichens, liverworts, and lycopodium, “because they are moss-like in their creepy clinging habit of growth….Like moss they are garden mood makers, as mystical as any tree.

Here’s a few more excellent titles from the Land Library’s shelves on mosses and their allies:

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Ferns, Mosses, and Other Spore-Producing Plants by Steve Parker (from our Kids Nature Library in Waterton Canyon), Bryophytes of Colorado: Mosses, Liverworts & Hornworts by William A. Weber & Ronald C. Wittman

new naturalistsht knowdale vitt
Mosses and Liverworts by Ron Porley & Nick Hodgetts, How to Know the Mosses and Liverworts by Henry Shoemaker Conard, Mosses, Lichens & Ferns of Northwest North America by Dale H. Vitt

And lastly, we should mention an older book that first got us excited about this miniature world: John Bland’s Forests of Lilliput: The Realm of Mosses and Lichens. Whenever we stumble across a copy in a second-hand store, we snatch it up for all the naturalists that will visit the Land Library some day soon!


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