Block of the Week: Moss

You mosst be joking!

For many, many years, Minecraft has included a mossy variant of cobblestone. It’s most often found deep underground in dungeons, but can also be acquired in jungle temples, underwater ruins, giant tree taiga biomes, and some villages. 

But what happens when that mossy cobblestone is left alone to grow, and grow and grow, for centuries? Even millennia? I’ll tell you what happens. You get our block of the week: pure, unadulterated moss.

The moss block is a feature of the lush caves biome, which you won’t find in a regular game yet because we’re still working on it. If you’re extra-keen, then you can generate a lush caves biome in a buffet or custom world. For the rest of you, you’ll want to hunt around in shipwrecks, or track down a wandering trader, to get hold of this wondrous material.

Why do I call it wondrous? Well, moss blocks have the ability to spread to other blocks nearby – but only under special circumstances. Normally, moss will sit there, look pretty, and not do anything. Like me when the deadline for this column is approaching. But apply a little bit of bonemeal, and the moss goes crazy, like my editor when I don’t file my column on time.

Bonemealed moss blocks will suddenly sprout layers of grass, tall grass, moss carpet, and even azalea bushes. But what’s more, they’ll also convert other blocks nearby into moss! You’ll want to experiment a little to find out exactly which blocks are convertible, but it works for most forms of dirt and stone.

In the real world, moss is a collection of species of small, flowerless plants that grow on rocks and trees in damp, shady places. Unlike most plants, mosses don’t have little tubes inside their bodies to transport water and nutrients around. Instead, they absorb both of those things through their leaves.

Mosses are very old. They’ve been around for at least 300 million years and probably quite a lot longer. That’s at least partly because they’re quite happy to live in situations that other species would reject – look between the paving slabs of the city you live in, or on its roof tiles, and you’ll find moss.

In the past, people collected mosses for all kinds of different reasons. They’re comfortable to sit or lie on, they’re insulating, and they suck up liquids. North American tribal peoples often used them for diapers, and to dress wounds, for example, and they were still being used as bandages as late as the First World War.

Today, they’re used for decoration more than anything else – florists use them in their flower arrangements, architects use them to build fancy-looking moss walls that supposedly clean the air, and in Mexico moss is even used as a Christmas ornament.

So in summary, there are loads of good reasons to use moss in your next Minecraft build. Just be careful you don’t bonemeal your home and turn it all into moss!

Duncan Geere
Written By
Duncan Geere