How to watch The Magical World of Moss

The Magical World of Moss is a one-off documentary produced by Zadig Productions and Arte France, which aired on BBC Four on 1st February 2023. It is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.


What is The Magical World of Moss about?

After an initial introduction extolling the virtues of moss, the programme whisks us away to Japan where the moss is revered and in gardens anything that may harm the moss is removed.

“When you observe a moss, you’ll notice that it’s a uniform green,” says Professor Ôishi Yoshitaka, research bryologist at the Fukui Prefectural University in Japan. “You don’t have the striking colours common to many flowering plants. But when you fully immerse yourself in this uniform green, and through it find peace of mind, you realise that this imperfect beauty is the very essence of perfect beauty. This is one way of looking at the beauty of mosses.”

This sets the tone for the programme, which continues on to take us to visit mosses around the world – the volcanic highlands of Iceland, a woodland in France and even the harsh conditions of Antarctica – and features interviews with scientists who explain how mosses have adapted to living in such a wide variety of habitats. Plus, a visit back in time to look at how the very first mosses evolved.

What is moss?

Mosses are small non-flowering plants, which sometimes get confused with lichens (particularly the lichens which are confusingly named reindeer moss or Iceland moss).

Most of us are familiar with the mosses that grow on walls or on lawns, as well as the Sphagnum moss genus found in peat.

Whilst we typically think of mosses as small plants, the tallest self-supporting moss in the world is Dawsonia superba, which can grow up to 60cm in height.

A company in Germany has developed a product consisting of matts of moss, which it says can absorb pollution particles, which would improve the health of people and the environment. BBC News reported on the story:


Main image: Statues covered in moss. © Lawrence Chalet/Zadig Productions


Megan ShersbyNaturalist, writer and content creator