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Secrets and Strengths of the Moss World

Friday, January 4, 2019 
with Erica Heinlen

Erica Heinlen uses a dissecting scope to identify lichen specimen
Erica Heinlen uses a dissecting scope to identify lichen 
at OHA's "Evening with the Experts" event in 2014.


Mosses are a fascinating part of our world. They operate much like their larger relatives, like trees and shrubs, just on a much smaller scale. In this talk, Erica touched on the taxonomy of mosses as well as their structure  and life cycle. The audience discovered the importance of mosses in our ecosystems and where they grow. We explored concepts of conservation and saw some special species found here in the Okanogan. Finally, addressed some of the “Frequently Asked Questions” that people tend to have about mosses. This was an interesting journey as we unlocked the secrets and strengths of the moss world!

The community is fortunate to have a moss expert living in Tonasket. Erica Heinlen studied botany at the University of Washington and worked for the local Forest Service for several years doing vascular plant surveys. She caught an interest in bryophytes (mosses, etc.) on the job and so attended the University of Alberta and obtained her Masters degree in 2002, on “Patterns of bryophyte diversity and rarity of the Okanogan Highlands of WA State.” She has been working part-time for the Forest Service and contracting other bryophyte work since then.


Moss mosaic near Molson, WA
A diverse mosaic of moss species awakens from dormancy when snowmelt runs down a granite outcrop in early spring.
(Near Molson, Okanogan County, photo by Julie Vanderwal)