Sphagnum affine may occur elsewhere but the taxonomy is unclear (K. I. Flatberg 1984). Although species of sect. Sphagnum are notoriously difficult to tell apart in the field, S. affine is typically smaller than S. centrale, S. palustre, and S. papillosum, the other brown species of this section with which it may occur. It is also much more likely to have somewhat squarrose branch leaves, especially in shade forms.
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