What makes mosses unique?

Inspired by Prof. Jan-Peter Frahm (†), Naturpatent Moos UMWELT & GESUNDHEIT (2008)

Mosses had to defend themselves against their enemies over the last 350 million years. Therefore, developing defenses against fungal and bacterial attacks as well as feeding protection against insects, snails and slugs.

This natural talent of mosses - structurally simple plants but having a high degree of chemical complexity - can be used in the form of extracts, especially used as a rich source of valuable molecules for biotechnological applications.

A special feature of mosses is that they have no roots and absorb their nutrients over the entire surface. This is done by ion exchange. By this way, anorganic salts, which represent up to 50% of the particulate matter, is bound to the surface of these plants, thus withdrawn from the atmosphere and converted into phytomass.

Not only this specific property of capturing fine dust, but also the other characteristics such as capturing carbon dioxide, water buffering, evaporative cooling, …, ensure mosses provide ecosystem services as applied in greening applications.

Advantages of mosses

Scientific research and pragmatic observations have shown that mosses have additional advantages compared to the most commonly used vascular plants (Hedera, Sedum, …). To illustrate, some striking scientifically-based differences:

  • 1 ha of moss captures about 7 times as much CO2 as 1 ha of urban forest
  • Moss removes 2,3 times more fine dust compared to Hedera and 93,3 times more fine dust compared to Sedum

See the illustrative pictures (scientific references of each topic are available).

1. Capture of CO2

2. Capture of fine dust (PM10)

3. Water buffering capacity


4. Reduce heat island effect due to evaporative cooling

5. Stronger survival mechanism: mosses accumulate 3 to 50 times more heavy metals than shrub and tree leaves

6. Mosses survive water shortage

7. More maintenance-friendly: less mowing or pruning, soil fertilization is unnecessary

8. Lower weight per square meter

9. No risk of damage to roofing or facade materials

10. Causes no rainwaterpollution


The taxonomy of the plants we are considering is complex and constantly in evolution. Let’s try to be clear.
Bryophytes are mainly divided in 3 phyla:

  • Mosses (Bryophyta) (in Dutch: blad-mossen) (11.000–13.000 species)
  • Liverworts (Marchantiophyta) (in Dutch: lever-mossen) (7000–9000 species)
  • Hornworts (Anthocerotophyta) (in Dutch: hauw-mossen) (200–250 species)

In every day common language, we use the word mosses. In the context of biotechnological applications, when the 3 phyla are intended, we use the word bryophytes.

Notable features

Check icon - Doctor Webflow Template

Among the world of plants, the bryophytes are the second largest group, exceeded only by the flowering plants (Magnoliophyte) (350.000 species).

Check icon - Doctor Webflow Template

Bryophytes are the first terrestrial plants directly placed between algae and vascular plants. Their evolution has begun at least 400 million years ago.

Check icon - Doctor Webflow Template

Plant body is small and ranges from a few mm to many cm. Zoopsis is the smallest bryophyte (5 mm) while the tallest bryophyte is Dawsonia (50-70 cm).

Check icon - Doctor Webflow Template

Vascular tissue (xylem and phloem) is completely absent. Water and food material is transferred from cell to cell. However, in some Bryophytes a few cells in groups of 2-3 are present for conduction of water and food.


Collaborate with us