Make the 'mossed' of 2021 with this botanical beauty

You have already been inspired by the insect of the year, perplexed by the plant of the year, boggled by the bird of the year and intrigued by the invertebrate of the year. But Latvia's Oscar-like awarding of various aspects of the natural world with special status for 2021 is far from over with confirmation of the winner in one of the most keenly contested categories of all: Moss Of The Year!

Having considered all the well-known and less-well-known mosses of Latvia during their deliberations, such as, er, sphagnum moss and, er, we can't think of any others, the better-informed judges of the Latvian Botanical Society have revealed the winner to be... wait for it... wait for it...  Nowellia curvifolia, better known by its somewhat less aristocratic name of 'Rustwort'.

As the name suggests, Rustwort can turn its preferred habitat of rotting logs a vivid crimson color and close examination shows the moss has very narrow concave leaves with long curved teeth that tend to come together in a pincer shape. It can often be spotted hanging out on old spruce and pine logs and prefers unspoiled forest, so its presence is a good indicator of a clean natural environment.

In shaded areas it is greener in color but exposure to light is what turns it a trademark deep red. 

The moss was named in 1870 in honor of the English bryologist John Nowell (1802-1867), bryology being - you guessed it - the scientific study of mosses.

As with the other aforementioned flora and fauna of the year, you can report your sightings of Rustwort on the internet platform dabasdati.lv. Imagine the thrill if you happen to see the bird of the year eating the insect of the year while sitting on top of the moss of the year as the plant of the year waves its languid approval in the cool forest breeze of the year.

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