Difference Between Lichen and Moss

Lichen vs Moss

Lichens and mosses are two different organisms in two different kingdoms though they are often mystified due to the word “Moss”. The word “Moss” often used in common names of lichens too. Lichens and mosses are distributed all over the world and contribute to enhance the bio diversity. By looking at their appearance, lichens and mosses are difficult to distinguish from each other.


Lichen is a symbiotic association between a fungus and either algae or cyanobacteria. The alga or the cyanobacterium produces food through photosynthesis and serve it to the fungus. The fungus then provides moisture, a substrate for survival and protection. Lichens are in three forms called Crustose lichens, Foliose lichens and Fruticose lichens. Lichens can survive in many extreme environments and also can survive as epiphytes. They have the ability to produce dormant structures in harsh conditions, and they can switch into their active form when favorable conditions are available.


Mosses are more primitive plants belong to kingdom Plantae and division Bryophyta. The mosses are distributed all over the world from sea levels to highest altitudes, though they need moist and shaded environments for survival. They do not have true leaves, roots, and stems with developed xylem and phloem. Mosses produce their own food by photosynthesis. They play an important role in preventing soil erosion by making a vegetative cover on surface. Male and female plants of mosses can be found separately. The spore-bearing sporophyte is short-lived and dependent on the female gametophyte.

What is the difference between Lichen and Moss?

• Lichens and mosses are in two different Kingdoms. Lichens are classified according to the fungal component of it and mosses belong to kingdom Plantae.

• Lichens can survive in many extreme environments while mosses are often restricted to moist shaded areas.

• Lichens often have grey or pale white in appearance, while mosses are usually green in color.

• Several lichens create disc shaped fruiting bodies which cannot be found in mosses.

• The lichen is an association of two organisms, whereas moss is a single organism.