Mosses and Liverworts
Most people think of mosses as plants that grow in wet, humid, shady forests, or along streambanks where moisture is constant and plentiful. It would seem that the Chiricahua mountains would be an inhospitable place for such plants, as the streams flow only during precipitation events, and springs are few and far between. However, there are small patches of habitat where some 50 species of mosses and liverworts are able to grow within the Monument. Narrow canyons and shaded understory areas provide enough relief from the drying sun for mosses to grow. Most of the mosses found here tend to grow on the bark at the base of large trees, on fallen logs, or on rocks. There are also mosses that form a crusty layer on soil surfaces.
Although not a prominant or showy type of plant, mosses can be seen near many of the trails if you are a careful observer. These plants are very delicate however, and can easily be destroyed by trampling or touching. Mosses play an important role in controlling erosion in riparian areas, and often do so by forming mats that bind the soil surface together and prevent it from being washed away.
Did You Know?
The Chiricahua Mountains are a crossroads for plants and animals from four ecosystems; the Rocky Mountains to the north, Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains to the south, the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts.