Reforesting Scotland logo

ForestHarvest: non-timber forest products in Scotland



Mosses (various species of moss)


Small clumping plants producing characteristic spore capsules. There are a great many different species in Scotland.


On trees and on the ground in most woodlands.

Forestry plantations can be managed for moss productivity by thinning and 'brashing', which allows more light to reach the forest floor.


Some mosses are gathered commercially from Scottish woodlands for the horticultural trade (hanging baskets) and for floristry (wreaths). These include Sphagnum, Pleurozium and Polytrichum species.

Mosses for the most part taste awful and are avoided by both animals and humans, though the Chinese have used some mosses as famine food.

Sphagnum moss has some history of food and other uses.


Mosses should only be gathered with the landowner's permission, and in a sustainable manner. Don't strip an area bare. Mossing usually takes place in the winter.

The sustainability of moss harvesting depends on where and how it is gathered. Current thinking is that moss gathered from conifer plantations is potentially a sustainable NTFP: moss gathered from peat bogs is unsustainable, as it damages endangered habitat.

It is illegal to gather any of the 28 species of moss listed in Schedule 8 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981)


Wild Harvests research - uses in Scotland today

Moss: used to provide craft materials and gardening supplies for personal use

Photo - detailed closeup of Polytrichum moss
Other information

A personal account of moss and foliage collecting (from Wales)

More on moss harvesting

Scotland's moss harvest - 2006 study

More on sphagnum moss