[maws, mos]
moss, any species of the class Bryopsida, in which the liverworts are sometimes included. Mosses and liverworts together comprise the division Bryophyta, the first green land plants to develop in the process of evolution. It is believed that they evolved from certain very primitive vascular plants and have not given rise to any other type of plant. Their rootlike rhizomes and leaflike processes lack the vascular structure (xylem and phloem) of the true roots, stems, and leaves found in higher plants. Although limited to moist habitats because they require water for fertilization, bryophytes are usually extremely hardy and grow everywhere except in the sea. Mosses, the more complex class structurally, usually grow vertically rather than horizontally, like the liverworts. The green moss plant visible to the naked eye, seldom over 6 in. (15.2 cm) in height, is the gametophyte generation (see reproduction). Except for the commercially valuable sphagnum or peat moss, mosses are of little direct importance to humans. They are of some value in soil formation and filling in of barren habitats (e.g., dried lakes) prior to the growth of higher plants and also provide food for certain animals. Unrelated plants sharing the name moss include the club moss, flowering moss, or pyxie (of the diapensia family), Irish moss, or carrageen (see algae), reindeer moss (a lichen), and Spanish moss. Mosses are classified in the division Bryophyta, class Bryopsida.

See A. J. Grout, Moss Flora of North America (3 vol., 1928-39, repr. 1972).

Hart, Moss, 1904-61, American dramatist, b. New York City, studied at Columbia. His first important play, Once in a Lifetime (1930), marked the beginning of a long collaboration with George S. Kaufman. Among their other successful comedies are Merrily We Roll Along (1934), You Can't Take It with You (1936; Pulitzer Prize), I'd Rather Be Right (1937, written with George M. Cohan), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1939), and George Washington Slept Here (1940). Hart also collaborated on musicals with Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, and his most successful musical, Lady in the Dark (1941), was written with Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin. Among his plays, produced between 1941 and 1952, are Winged Victory, Christopher Blake, Light Up the Sky, and The Climate of Eden. Hart also directed several 1940s film comedies and wrote the 1952 screen hit Hans Christian Andersen. In 1956 he returned to Broadway as director of the long-running musical hit My Fair Lady.

See his autobiographical Act One (1959); biography by S. Bach (2001).

Moss is a coastal town and municipality in the county of Østfold, Norway.


The city of Moss was established as a municipality 1 January 1838 (see formannskapsdistrikt). The rural municipality of Jeløy was merged with the city 1 July 1943.

Its administrative district covers areas east of the town, such as the island of Dillingøy in the lake Vansjø. Parts of the town are located on the peninsula Jeløy. Moss city has 40217 inhabitants (2007).


The town is known for paper mills, as well as metalworks and other factories. Dillingøy is known as a place for alternative non-military civil service. Moss is mentioned since the Renaissance and was the site of the signing of the Convention of Moss in 1814, which solidified the union with Sweden. The headquarters of textile producer Helly-Hansen are located here. The maker of international hotel keycards, Trio Ving, also has their headquarters here.


Archeological finds suggest that there were settlements in the area more than 7,000 years ago and continuously through the Iron Age, Viking Age, through to modern times. During the Viking era, the place was known as Varna and was the site of a cooperative for battleships held by local warlords on behalf of the king.

The first literary reference to the name Mos(s) is from 1390, and by then the town had become a commercial center with craftsmen and mills. By the 1500s the town's port was significant enough to warrant its own customs official. Liquor distilleries became one of the dominant industries, and it wasn't until 1607, after the Reformation, that the town got its own church.

By 1700, Moss had become a hub for both ship and land traffic between Copenhagen and Christiania, and in 1720 it received its charter as a merchant town, with its own official. This may have had background in an important battle in 1716 that was fought in the town square in Moss in which Norwegian troops commanded by Vincent Budde prevailed over invading Swedish forces, sent by Charles XII to capture Akershus fortress.

In 1814, Moss became the site for the signing of the Convention of Moss, which effectively put an end to the Dano-Norwegian kingdom. This set the stage for economic development that has persisted to this day.

On the morning of 14 July 2006, a bolide exploded above the nearby town of Rygge - moments later, several stony meteorites fell over Moss. A number of meteorites were recovered by local residents and visiting meteorite hunters, which after analysis and classification, were found to be a rare type of carbonaceous chondrite.

Sister city; Norwegian Lady Statues

Moss and Virginia Beach, Virginia in the United States are sister cities. On Good Friday, 27 March 1891, the Norwegian bark Dictator, whose home port was Moss, was lost in the treacherous waters of the Graveyard of the Atlantic. The ship had been en route to England from Pensacola, Florida with a cargo of Georgia Pine lumber. After being caught and disabled in a storm, she was headed for port at Hampton Roads, Virginia to make repairs when she encountered another storm just off Virginia Beach.

Working in the high winds and seas, lifesaving crews from shore were able to save some of the 17 persons aboard. However, the pregnant wife of Captain J.M. Jorgensen, Johanne, and their 4 year-old son Carl were among the 7 persons who drowned.

The ship's wooden female figurehead had washed ashore. It was placed in a vertical position facing the ocean near the boardwalk as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the shipwreck. It was a landmark there for more than 60 years, but gradually became weathered and eroded.

In 1962, Norwegian sculptor Ørnulf Bast was commissioned to create two nine-foot bronze replicas of the original figurehead by the City of Moss. The Norwegian Lady Statues were unveiled on 22 September 1962. One was presented as a gift to Virginia Beach, and an exact duplicate was erected in Moss to unite the two sister cities. Each statue faces the other across the Atlantic Ocean.

On 13 October 1995, Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway visited the Norwegian Lady statue in Virginia Beach, and placed memorial flowers.

Origin of the name

The Old Norse form of the name was Mors. This is an old rivername (now Mosseelva). The name is thought to be very old, and the meaning of it is not clear. (It may be derived from an old root *mer- 'divide, split'.)


The coat-of-arms is from modern times (1954). It shows a crow.


In the autumn of 2007, a military airport called Rygge just outside Moss will have finished the conversion into a civil airport. Moss Airport, Rygge will receive the IATA code RYG. The project initially started in 1992 was dubbed RSL an acronym for Rygge sivile lufthavn (Rygge civilian airport).

See also

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