Unlike Sphagnum angustifolium and S. annulatum, S. balticum has stem leaves exerted at right angles to the stem. It also has fewer and weaker hanging branches than does S. angustifolium, which make the stem itself often visible and the stem leaves easier to see. Sphagnum balticum also lacks the paired pendent branch buds between the capitulum rays as seen in S. angustifolium.
In Sphagnum kenaiense there are sometimes spreading stem leaves but this species has 2 hanging branches per fascicle.
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