Moss cushion plays an important role in recruitment of vascular plants. In this study, we examined the effects of water soluble extracts (WSE) of Abietinella abietina on germination of Qinghai spruce (Picea crassifolia) and the effects of moss substrates (A. abietina) on seedling emergence of P. crassifolia in two greenhouse experiments. We found that the WSE of moss affected germination of P. crassifolia in two ways: (1) the WSE reducing the risk of fungal infection to the seeds, improve the germination rate; and (2) the WSE affects germination by its concentration, that is, low concentrations of WSE (i.e., 0.5 mg ml-1 and 5 mg ml-1) stimulate, while high concentrations (i.e., 50 mg ml-1) inhibit it. In seedling emergence experiments, we detected that the moss substrates (both thick and thin mosses) facilitate the emergence of P. crassifolia in dry and intermediate moisture conditions, but inhibit it in moist conditions. In bare soil, the P. crassifolia emergence was also controlled by moisture conditions; the highest (60%) and the lowest (35%) emergence occurred in the moist conditions and dry conditions, respectively.
We also found that P. crassifolia seedlings were thinner and taller, but their number higher in moss cushion than in bare soil. Thus we conclude that there is nurse effect of A. abietina cushion on recruitment of P. crassifolia in both dry and intermediate moisture conditions.