Sphagnum palustre is a semi-aquatic moss, often forming extensive mats in fens and bogs. Not altogether common because of its water requirements but often the most abundant plant in open, wet, acidic, nutrient poor sites.
One of 285 species of Spagnum, S. palustre may be a principle component in horticultural potting soils. Sometimes referred to as ‘peat moss, a common name for Sphagnum and other plants this plant is commercially collected for the horticultural trade because of their properties to hold up to 25% of their dry weight in water.
Reproduction is by fragmentation of the plant and production of spores. The spore capsules mature in the summer and are said to produce an audible popping sound when the capsule breaks open to release the wind dispersed spores.
Before the advent of modern medicine and antibiotics, Sphagnum, perhaps including S. palustre was used as compresses on wounds – its acidic properties serving as a natural antiseptic.