Picture of the day - June 1, 2005
A Mossy Log
Today's picture features a fallen log covered with a thick layer of log moss. I
found this mossy log while walking through the woods in the Jefferson National
Forest's Backbone Rock
National Recreation Area just across the Tennessee state line from nearby Damascus,
Log moss and ginseng were two of the mountain products that my family gathered
in order to supplement our income as I was growing up. One of my most vivid childhood
memories is seeing the entire yard carpeted with sections of log moss,
root-side up, laid out to dry under the hot sun.
Log moss was gathered by many Appalachian mountain families in the early and mid
1900's as a means of raising much needed cash. Times were hard back then, and
the entire family had to pitch in to help put food on the table and shoes on the
The moss was carefully pulled from decaying logs in as large sections as
possible, folded and placed into hemp sacks, then carried out of the mountains
back to the house. The sections were then laid out upside down so the sun could
dry everything out. After the moss was dry, it was baled and hauled to an herb
buyer who would weigh it and pay cash by the pound for it. It was then re-sold
to florists, craftsmen and anyone else who happened to have a use for log moss!
There is little harvestable log moss to be found on private property these days.
Like the moss featured in today's photo, most of what's left is in America's
National Forests where it's protected and preserved for future generations to
see when they visit our woodlands.
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