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 Irish Moss cough syrup

What is a bryophyte? – What's not a bryophyte?

When is a "moss" not a moss?

On this page you'll find a number of examples of where the term "moss" is used, even though there is no bryophyte present.

American Moss is an alternative for Black Moss, explained below .

Ball Moss is a flowering plant, Tillandsia recurvata belonging to the pineapple family, the Bromeliaceae. It is in the same genus as Spanish Moss which is explained below.

Beard Moss is the lichen Usnea barbata.

Black Moss is dried Spanish Moss, explained below.

Canary moss is the lichen Parmelia perlata.

Ceylon Moss is a common name used for several seaweeds.

Chalice Moss is the lichen Cenomyce pyxidata.

Club Moss is a general name applied to fern-allies in the family Lycopodiaceae, such as Lycopodium, Huperzia or Selaginella species.

Corsican Moss is the seaweed Alsidium helminthocorton.

Florida Moss is an alternative name for the more common Spanish Moss, explained below.

Flowering Moss is the creeping, evergreen shrub Pyxidanthera barbulata.

Iceland Moss is the lichen Cetraria islandica.

Irish Moss is a purplish-brown edible seaweed, Chondrus crispus, also known as carrageen. This seaweed is dried and bleached to produce a commercial thickening agent which is used as a substitute for gelatine. In Australia, at least, "Irish Moss" is also the selling name for a type of medicated jubes, sold for the relief of coughs and colds. The listed ingredients were liquorice extract, anise oil, peppermint oil and menthol – no moss.

Jaffna Moss is the lichen Alectoria sarmentosa.

Long moss is an alternative name for the more common Spanish Moss, explained below.

Peat Moss is a confusing expression. It is often used to mean live or dead Sphagnum, which is definitely a moss. However it is also used to refer to the dead, half-decomposed contents of peat bogs that are harvested and sold for use in potting mix. Peat may contain the remains of mosses, sedges or other water plants, depending on the type of bog it came from.

Pixie Moss is an alternative for Flowering Moss, explained above.

Reindeer Moss is the lichen Cladina rangifera, eaten by reindeer and caribou during winter.

Snake Moss is Lycopodium clavatum, one of the fern allies.

Spanish Moss is a flowering plant, Tillandsia usneoides, belonging to the pineapple family, the Bromeliaceae. Spanish Moss hangs from tree branches in long, grey-green strands and is common in the south-eastern states of the USA, where it is also known as Florida Moss. When dried it was used as stuffing in upholstery and was called Black Moss. There are various ways in which the harvested strands can be treated after picking and some of those methods leave the strands coloured brown to black, The species epithet usneoides literally means "resembling Usnea" and Usnea is a lichen genus. The species of Usnea often grow pendulously, a little like massed strings and a common name for this lichen genus is Old Man's Beard. So this flowering plant resembles a lichen, its scientific name takes note of that resemblance – but the common name has the word "moss" in it! There's more about Spanish Moss on this website:

Velvet Moss is the lichen Umbilicaria grisea, once known by the name Gyrophora murina.

White Moss is a term that has been used for a number of lichen species.

In all of the above terms the word "moss" has functioned as a noun, with an adjective before it to qualify it. There are also many terms in which "moss" is used adjectivally, as the first word in an expression – but again with no bryophyte involved. A good place in which to find these is the Oxford English Dictionary, ideally the 13-volume-plus-supplements version or the modern CD-ROM equivalent. There you can ponder upon expressions such as moss agate, moss back, moss hag, moss trooper and more.