Following an answer to aprevious question I posted, this world does is filled with moss and lichen fields that make other plant growth (and crop cultivation) impossible.

But after researching mosses and lichens, I found out that their growth rate might be too slow to support a meaningful pastoralist population, with some of the fastest vertical growing mosses attaining around 1 inch of height per month, compared to 6 inches in typical lawn grasses, or meters in the case of elephant grass. Thus came this question:

Is it possible for athis world's mosses and other lichens to attain growth rates similar to grass?

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    $\begingroup$ I think you might be straining at a gnat. I don't believe anybody's put any real time into selectively breeding moss and/or lichen, consequently we're left with what Mother Nature came up with, which (generally speaking) always fills the lowest-energy-necessary category. While I'd have difficulty believing moss or lichen growing inches per-day, I can believe it naturally possible for moss or lichen to evolve to grow an inch or more a week, especially if the world didn't evolve as many grass varieties that crowd out the moss and lichen. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Mar 20 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ Note that this was a good question for Worldbuilding Chat. "Is it possible/plausible/realistic?" questions aren't actually a great fit here because our goal per the help center is to help you build an imaginary world where you set the rules. A better way to ask the question here on Main is to make the choice and ask for help rationalizing it. Thus, "Is it possible?" becomes "Moss and lichen on my world grow at the rate of one inch per week. How can I rationalize that in my world?" Expect to include some details about your world. Cheers. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Mar 20 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ Given that the hands are yours to wave, your non-terrestrial mosses can be as big and as bad as you need. More importantly, the answer you linked didn't mention mosses at all, but did imply lichen-like symbiotes which needn't be anything like you can find on Earth. D'you want giant fast-growing lichens? Then you can have them! It isn't like there's competition from vascular plants on your world. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 20 at 16:04

2 Answers 2


Hyper-active plants usually have one thing in common- they have adapted to very constrained environments. From there it spreads- at an alarming rate when taking to the lush lowlands. Example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impatiens_glandulifera

So what about moss? Its a bottom feeder plant- and there is little forest at the top. But it has adapted to low light conditions - which are harsh in another way. https://phys.org/news/2023-08-oldest-fastest-evolving-moss-world.html

My suggestion is to build a "community plant" similar to lichen- which is actually a community plant consisting of algae/cyanobacteria in a fungi.

If your moss would band together and grow on a kudzu like vine, that could reach the forest canopy, it could flourish there, due to massive light, creating a huge all-covering carpet of moss, that slowly kills everything below.

If you make it a tri-plant community, it could carry a fungi, which would feed the dying trees below to the vine and moss. If the vine is capable to build some structure to stay upright, you end up with very monotonous cathedrals of green, that swell in the rainy season. Spiraled structures, hugging trees long gone carry it. The little light that is emitted by the fungi, allows for new moss to grow on the floor below.


Important Note: Please keep in mind that i am no biologist. So my ideas should be taken with a grain of salt.

They were forced to adapt to survive

Your world as its completely covered in moss and similar stuff developed into a natural highly competitive environment. This is due to the lack of space plants could still grow as literally everything is covered. This in turn forced plants to develop highly aggressive adaptations.

  1. You Plants grow faster: This is due to the lack of space i mentioned earlier. Naturally whenever a plant dies the one that grows faster has the advantage spreading itself further to the now free space. Over time this caused faster growing plants to be more abundant.

  2. They replicate faster: Similar to 1. your plants had developed traits that made it easier to spread their offspring. This naturally made plants which were able to produce more pollen and have it take root faster more abundant. This is of course as they were the first to claim available space.

  3. They grow taller: If we extrapolate 2. than it would be logical that your mosses further adapted to grow taller. This is due to pollen having a higher chance of being spread farther when they start from a higher place up. This caused your moss to be taller than in our world. Though not only that it also grows faster in height as to prevent their pollen from being stuck in their neighbor plants without reaching very far.

Note: English is not my primary language so please excuse any grammar or spelling errors


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