What Side of a Tree Does Moss Grow on?

Moss on tree bark, sunny background

Often presented as a natural compass, moss is found in our forests and often on the bark of trees. So, does moss grow on the north side of trees?

Contrary to the myth, moss grows in a different place depending on the hemisphere you are in. In the northern hemisphere, it will tend to grow northward while in the southern hemisphere, moss will grow southward. In fact, moss will seek out the most humid and shaded areas, therefore those less exposed to the sun.

In this article, we gathered for you all the elements you need to understand everything about moss and what side of trees moss grows on.

Let’s get started.

Does moss grow in sun or shade?

The moss needs to grow in the least sunny place. Usually, the canopy in the forest acts as an ideal shield for it. This primitive plant needs shade.
But the most important factor for the growth of moss is the humidity of the environment, it does not have roots that will seek nutrients in the soil, it absorbs them directly from the water and air.

Why does moss grow on trees?

The moss is a plant that does not need soil to grow, it will seek out wetlands where the competition for territory is lowest. The bark of trees is then a particularly suitable area for the development of moss. Multiple crevices, grooves and reliefs allow its rhizoids to anchor and moss spores to develop. Moreover, the fact of growing on trees allows it to develop vertically along tree trunk, there is no competition for the growth space.

Is moss on trees good or bad?

Water drops on green moss

According to Michigan State University, the presence of moss on our trees has absolutely no negative impact on them. Like lichen, moss isn’t a parasite. Mosses need a base to grow, and trees seem to be a perfect match. They don’t drain and steal water and nutriments from tree bark or any other host surface, so they can grow without causing damage. In fact, moss absorbs moisture from the environment as well as mineral salts directly through its stems.

Does Moss Grow In Acidic Soil?

Yes, but not specifically. Moss is not the most pH sensitive plant, it is rather a plant that adapts better than many others. Thus, moss will grow on poor quality soils (of which acid soils belong) much more easily than other plants. Hard and acid soils are therefore the best places for moss to grow, but it will also grow in other places with different characteristics.

Does moss die in winter?

No, moss is a plant adapted to low temperatures. It can proliferate even in difficult conditions. This is one of the reasons why green moss is often visible during the winter months.

What are the different moss species?

Green moss covering a whole ground

Mosses are divided into three distinct lineages: true mosses or mosses in the strict sense (Bryophyta), liverworts (Marchantiophyta) and anthocerotids (Anthocerotophyta). Each of these lineages constitutes a group that includes one ancestor and all its descendants, called a monophyletic group. The volume in terms of biodiversity of these three groups is not equivalent: 13,000 species of true mosses, 5,000 species of liverworts and barely 150 species of anthocerotophytes.


Now you know that moss, even if proliferating, is harmless to trees and that it simply seeks shade and moisture. If you have some in your garden or on your house (it can happen on the roof for example), don’t worry, it is possible to get rid of it.

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