This alien-looking plant sprouted very suddenly from a clump of moss, several months after the moss had been brought in from the outdoors. I've never seen anything like it. It doesn't have a grass-like shaft, it resembles a fern but isn't a variety I know or can find through research. It's also definitely not part of the moss. Originally from California, if that helps. Also, when it sprouted it came up with it's seed pod/shell trapped on it's head, so I know it came from a seed. I'm extremely curious, any ideas?

Image 1 Image 2

  • 1
    I think its likely a sporophyte, either off the moss or a gametophyte from hidden liverwort (Marchantia polymorpha is similar). The 'seed' you saw may have been the capsule, which disseminates spores as part of the moss reproduction process. But I'm not 100% sure, other than to say these sort of tiny palm tree like growths are not uncommon amongst mosses, algae and liverworts, and are always part of reproduction. If it keeps growing and gets much, much larger, then it isn't what I've said!
    – Bamboo
    Jul 27, 2017 at 22:51
  • Hi trim. I'm so glad you asked this! I'd have been inclined to just wait, hoping it wouldn't keel over and die. Taking a picture and getting an identification at such a young stage was really smart! I'm sure lots of people like me have learned something important from this. I hope you try and grow it! Jul 28, 2017 at 1:11

1 Answer 1


I think it could be a baby conifer tree. Those seem to have multiple bright green cotelydons and look sort of like that. I found a couple of pictures on the internet that didn't look exactly like the one you have, but had a certain resemblance, and there are certainly lots of different conifers out there.

These are Douglas fir cotelydons, picture from Wikipedia :

doug fir cotelydons from Wikipedia

This picture of an infant ghost pine is from here:

ghost pine seedling

This is a Serbian Spruce seedling from here:

serbian spruce cotelydons

  • Oh I think this is very good Lorel!!
    – stormy
    Jul 28, 2017 at 0:12
  • 1
    Oh yes, @Lorel C.! Absolutely a pine. Some Googling on that revealed this which is the exact “Bird cage” stage for pine seedlings I observed. I know feel like I can work out which species based on location and Google images. Thanks!
    – trim
    Jul 28, 2017 at 0:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.