Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pixie Moss a moss with flowers?


This Saturday the Carolina Butterfly Society is having a field trip to Weymouth Woods Nature Preserve and they will be looking for Pixie Moss, Pyxidanthera barbulata and Brown Elfin butterflies. I've been going out to the perserve and Sandhills Gamelands for 10 years or so, finding this plant in bloom had always been a huge highlight of spring. No it is not a moss at all, did you really think a true moss could have flowers?


Here is some info I gleened from the Center For Plant Conservation on Pixie Moss.

Pyxidanthera barbulata is a diminutive, creeping evergreen sub-shrub that forms dense mats sprinkled with delicate white-pink flowers. Its prostrate growth form and crowded tiny leaves allow the plant to conserve water in the very xeric habitats in which it occurs. Its habitat includes the back-barrier dunes of southern Long Island, throughout the dwarf pine plains of New Jersey, among the last remaining longleaf pine stands of Virginia, to the sandhills of the Carolinas.

Habitat: Pyxidanthera barbulata is found in droughty, acidic sandy soils under an open or thin canopy of pines. Although it is typically described from xeric habitats, the plant is termed a facultative wetland associate (USDA 2001), and listed with keys to aquatic and wetland plants (Godfrey and Wooten 1981). Wells and Shunk (1931) record it from "coarse sand areas of low relief having a high water table for extended periods alternating with depressed water table in drought years." Thus, the plant can tolerate a broad range of hydrological conditions.

Distribution: Pyxidanthera barbulata is recorded from 22 counties in North Carolina, 2 counties in South Carolina, and 3 counties in Virginia (USDA 2001). The status and distribution of this species in New Jersey is uncertain, as reflected in the state rank of S?; however, it is known from at least two sites in Ocean County, NJ.

Above is a Brown Elfin on Pixie Moss.

9 comments:

Bren said...

These are wonderful signs of spring. Thank you for sharing them. We still have a few week before flowers start blooming in zone 5b. Happy Planting and I can't wait to see what the rest of the spring holds for you!

RainGardener said...

Hi Randy and Meg,
That is very interesting - pretty too. I've never seen it before. Great pics. Spring really is coming isn't it?

Kanak Hagjer said...

What a treat seeing these beautiful, delicate blooms, and the Brown Elfin. Thanks for sharing.

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

Great pictures. The yellow of the flowers practically glows, no wonder the butterflies are attracted to it!

Elisabeth's bright side said...

I'm so glad I bumped into your blogg. I love the butterflies and especially the dragonflies. Of coursce I love the flowers too. Thank you.
Have a nice weekend!

sweet bay said...

Beautiful! I had not seen Pixie Moss before. What an appropriate name.

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

I never saw pixie moss before. It is a very interesting moss. I flowers are lovely on it.

Just Jenn said...

Very informative... I love how the "Elf" likes the "Pixie" too - very entertaining. ;^)

Tim Ross-Watson said...

Do you know where i can buy pixie moss seeds?