Mosses have the potential to play a significant role in the global cycling and fate of semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs), due to their extensive distribution at high latitudes and the long-range atmospheric transport of SVOCs. Unlike vascular plants mosses lack a substantial cuticle, vascular system, or root structure, taking up water, nutrients and SVOCs primarily from the atmosphere. Mosses have thus been effectively used as passive air samplers for many SVOCs in urban and rural locations. The potential differences in atmospheric uptake and within-leaf movement, storage and processing of SVOCs between vascular and nonvascular living plants were investigated here by comparing the uptake and behavior of phenanthrene in spinach (Spinacia oleracea) and moss (Hypnum cupressiforme), using two-photon excitation microscopy coupled with autofluorescence. Chemical uptake, movement, storage, and compartmentalization of phenanthrene was directly detected, visualized, and monitored over a 12 day period following exposure to gas phase phenanthrene. Species differences in the uptake of phenanthrene between moss and spinach leaves were observed, showing how morphological differences affect the foliar uptake of SVOCs. In spinach, phenanthrene accumulated within the cellular cytoplasm and vacuole. In moss, phenanthrene accumulated predominantly within the cell walls, before later migrating across the cell membrane into adjacent cells and the cellular cytoplasm. The study represents a further demonstration of how different plant species can display different and complex transport and storage pathways for the same chemical, and highlights the importance of the cellular structure and plant morphological and physiological features in controlling this behavior.