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Overview

Brief Summary

There are only a few species of mosses that can tolerate a small amount of salt. Baltic bryum and Warne's thread-moss.
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Sphagnum is a genus that comprises one of the major groups (superclasses) of the largest phylum of mosses (Bryophyta) generally found in boreal areas in the Northern Hemisphere (although diverse species also occur in tropical and subtropical areas, and in the Southern Hemisphere), best known as a typical species of bogs, coniferous swamps, and fens, and used horticulturally (as a plant growing medium or soil amendment), as a biofuel (traditional in Ireland), and to flavor alcoholic beverages (whisky and Scotch), among other products.

The Sphagnum genus contains roughly 135 species, although classifications have varied considerably in the number of species recognized. All species display a distinctive branch arrangement, with 3 or more fascicles (groups) of branches produced with every 4th leaf. Within a fascicle, at least 2 branches hang downwards, pressed close to the stem, while 1 to 3 are held out, diverging from the stem.

Sphagnum mosses are a dominant component of bogs and other wetland ecosystems, and affect important ecological processes. They tend to acidify their environment, and thus to direct future succession. The presence of Sphagnum deposits and spores has been used in paleoecological studies as an indicator of past climates and ecological conditions. This group of mosses has a tremendous water-holding capacity, potentially retaining 25 times their dry weight in water, which modifies spring runoff in vast stretches of permafrost in the Arctic; however, when permafrost melts, the Sphagnum becomes saturated and may suddenly release large volumes of water.

Sphagnum, often referred to as peat or peat moss (although “peat” includes various species of partly decayed vegetation), is widely used in horticulture, as a planting medium, mulch, soil conditioner, and for grafting trees and cultivating mushrooms. However, nearly half of the peat harvested annually is used for fuel; it is an important fuel source in northern European countries including Finland, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Russia, and Sweden. Peat may be burned directly or converted to other burnable fuels, including methane, ethylene, natural or synthetic gas. Sphagnum is also used as fiber or pulp for paper manufacture, and is a component of recently developed construction materials, including “peatcrete” (peat mixed with concrete, then pressed with Portland cement and water and cast or molded) and “peatwood” (mixed with phenolic resin and molded).

Sphagnum peatlands have been used for wastewater treatment. When sewage is discharged to an active peatland, Sphagnum can absorb toxic heavy metals, oil spills, PCP (pentachlorophenol), microbes, and excess nitrogen and potassium from eutrophic river water.

Sphagnum has also been used in diverse ways in the past. Native Americans used it for diapers, and it was used during World War I in bandages instead of cotton—both applications took advantage of its absorbency, but also its antimicrobial and antiviral properties, which have been confirmed in recent studies. It has been used to stuff mattresses, pillows, furnishings, and as insulation, and in sanitary napkins and boot liners (to absorb moisture and odors), as animal bedding, or mixed with molasses as livestock feed. It can be mixed with alkaline to produce a brown dye. Scotch and Irish whisky are flavored by peat when germinated malt (or barley) is dried over peat fires.

Threats to Sphagnum peatlands are outlined in the “Threats” section.

(Anderson et al. 2009, Crandall-Stotler and Bartholomew-Began 2007, Crum 1988, Crum and Anderson 1981, Glime 2007, McQueen and Andrus 2007, Wikipedia 2012.)

  • Anderson, L.E., A.J. Shaw, and B. Shaw. 2009. Peat Mosses of the Southeastern United States. New York: New York Botanical Garden Press. 111 p.
  • Crandall-Stotler, B.J., and S.E. Bartholomew-Began. 2007. Morphology of Mosses (Phylum Bryophyta). In Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. Flora of North America north of Mexico 27: 3–13. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Crum, H. A. 1988. A Focus on Peatlands and Peat Mosses. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 306 p.
  • Crum, H.S., and L.E. Anderson. 1981. Mosses of Eastern North America. Vol 1. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Glime, J.M. 2007. Economic and Ethnic Uses of Bryophtyes. In Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. Flora of North America north of Mexico 27: 14–41. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • McQueen, C.B., and R.E. Andrus. 2007. 2. Sphagnaceae Dumortier. In Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. Flora of North America north of Mexico 27: 45–101. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Wikipedia. 2012. Peat [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 2012 Jun 25, 19:40 UTC [cited 2012 Jun 27]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Peat&oldid=499331815.
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Ecology

Associations

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Plant / associate
fruitbody of Armillaria ectypa is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Arrhenia epichysium is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Arrhenia obscurata is associated with Sphagnum
Other: minor host/prey

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Arrhenia onisca is associated with Sphagnum
Other: major host/prey

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Arrhenia philonotis is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Arrhenia sphagnicola is associated with gametophyte of Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Arrhenia velutipes is associated with gametophyte of Sphagnum

Plant / epiphyte
sporangium of Badhamia lilacina grows on gametophyte of Sphagnum

Plant / resting place / among
imago of Bagous frit may be found among plants of Sphagnum

Foodplant / saprobe
gregarious apothecium of Byssonectria fusispora is saprobic on burnt peat of Sphagnum
Other: major host/prey

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Collybia dryophila is associated with Sphagnum
Other: minor host/prey

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Entoloma atromarginatum is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Entoloma cuspidiferum is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Entoloma elodes is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Entoloma fuscomarginatum is associated with live Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Entoloma jennyae is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Entoloma rhombisporum var. rhombisporum is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Entoloma sphagneti is associated with dying Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Entoloma sphagnorum is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Entoloma turci is associated with Sphagnum
Other: minor host/prey

Plant / resting place / within
nest of Formica transkaucasica may be found in bogs of Sphagnum
Other: sole host/prey

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Galerina atkinsoniana is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Galerina paludosa is associated with live Sphagnum
Remarks: season: 5-8

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Galerina septentrionalis is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Galerina sphagnorum is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Galerina stordalii is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Galerina tibiicystis is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
sporocarp of Glomus fuegianum is associated with Sphagnum
Other: major host/prey

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Hebeloma atrobrunneum is associated with Sphagnum
Other: major host/prey

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Hygrocybe coccineocrenata is associated with live Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Hygrocybe turunda is associated with live Sphagnum
Other: minor host/prey

Plant / epiphyte
solitary apothecium of Hymenoscyphus vasaensis grows on leaf of Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Hypholoma elongatum is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Hypholoma udum is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Inocybe pallida is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Lactarius lacunarum is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Lactarius musteus is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Lactarius sphagneti is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Lactarius vietus is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Leccinum aerugineum is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Leccinum holopus is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / grows among
sessile apothecium of Leucoscypha erminea grows among gametophyte of Sphagnum
Remarks: season: 6
Other: minor host/prey

Plant / grows among
apothecium of Leucoscypha leucotricha grows among gametophyte of Sphagnum
Other: minor host/prey

Plant / resting place / on
Botrydina anamorph of Lichenomphalia umbellifera may be found on plant of Sphagnum
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / pathogen
fruitbody of Loreleia postii infects and damages moribund thallus of Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Mycena adonis var. adonis is associated with Sphagnum
Other: minor host/prey

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Mycena capillaripes is associated with Sphagnum
Other: minor host/prey

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Mycena megaspora is associated with Sphagnum
Other: minor host/prey

Plant / resting place / within
nest of Myrmica scabrinodis may be found in bogs of Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Naucoria sphagneti is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Omphalina fulvopallens is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / grows among
apothecium of Pezoloma ciliifera grows among gametophyte of Sphagnum

Plant / associate
apothecium of Pezoloma iodocyanescens is associated with gametophyte of Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Phaeogalera stagnina is associated with Sphagnum
Other: major host/prey

Plant / resting place / within
puparium of Phaonia jaroschewskii may be found in Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Psathyrella ploddensis is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Psathyrella sphagnicola is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / grows among
gregarious apothecium of Pseudoplectania sphagnophila grows among gametophyte of Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Russula aquosa is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Russula claroflava is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Russula emetica is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Russula sphagnophila is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / grows among
apothecium of Sarcoleotia turficola grows among gametophyte of Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Sphagnomphalia brevibasidiata is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Tephrocybe palustris is associated with Sphagnum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Trechispora byssinella is associated with live plant of Sphagnum

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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Internal perforations transport nutrients: sphagnum moss
 

Sphagnum moss translocates nutrients via small perforations that connect the cells in the stem.

     
  "The cation exchange is one explanation for why Sphagnum can grow in extremely poor habitats. Another factor is the ability to conserve nutrients. As the lower parts of the shoots are incorporated into peat, the plant faces the risk of losing essential nutrients and minerals. By tracer techniques (l4C, 32p) it has been shown that Sphagnum can translocate metabolites to the growing capitulum further down. This transport occurs internally and is dependent upon the plant being alive (Rydin and Clymo 1989). This is somewhat surprising, since Sphagnum mosses lack specialized conductive tissue. It is made possible since the cell ends in the stem are connected by small perforations (plasmodesmata) through which the transport occurs. Nitrogen is accumulated in new biomass, and it is likely that it is translocated internally in the same way (Aldous 2002)." (Rydin and Jeglum 2006:67)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Rydin, H.; Jeglum, J. K. 2006. The Biology of Peatlands. Oxford University Press. 343 p.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:65Public Records:49
Specimens with Sequences:64Public Species:35
Specimens with Barcodes:63Public BINs:0
Species:39         
Species With Barcodes:38         
          
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Barcode data

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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Sphagnum

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Threats

Comments: Somewhat threatened by land-use conversion, habitat fragmentation, forest management practices, and sedimentation (Southern Appalachian Species Viability Project 2002).

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Sphagnum peatlands are threatened by overharvesting, conversion to agricultural land, hydrological changes from aquifers altered by irrigation or overuse, and damage from forest harvesting and air pollution.

Sphagnum is often considered a renewable resource that can be “harvested,” because raking after partial harvest can encourage regeneration. However, much peat harvesting, especially that for peat used as fuel, is actually mining—characterized by a complete removal of all peat layers, so that the Sphagnum cannot regenerate. Even if some Sphagnum is left during harvest, and hydrological conditions are not irrevocably altered, the moss regenerates slowly, with its peat accumulating at 10 to 40 cm (4 to 13 in) per thousand years, so it cannot be harvested again in a lifetime.

In some countries, overharvesting threatens Sphagnum peatlands—Finland, for example, is estimated to have lost 60% of its Sphagnum peatlands.

Overharvesting may pose the largest threat, but destruction of aquifers that feed peatland can pose a particularly dramatic one. When hydrological alterations or extreme drought dry out a peatland, the decomposing peat can generate methane and other flammable gases that collect in underground pockets. When ignited by lightening strikes, or auto-ignited through the combination of combustible gases, this can lead to subterranean fires that can extend to large areas of peatland, and may burn for weeks to months or years, resulting in massive releases of the CO2 that is stored in these deposits. Such fires have affected large peatlands in Indonesia, as well as a peatland in Spain that is part of a nature reserve listed on the Ramsar convention. Although it is not clear that these peatlands were Sphagnum dominated, these cases suggest the potential threats to any peatland from widespread hydrological changes.

Some studies suggest that Sphagnum is particularly sensitive to damage from air pollution, and may decline with acid rain or increased ozone.

(Anderson et al. 2009, Crandall-Stotler and Bartholomew-Began 2007, Crum 1988, Crum and Anderson 1981, Glime 2007, Lopez-Gunn et al. 2011, McQueen and Andrus 2007, Wikipedia 2012.)

  • Anderson, L.E., A.J. Shaw, and B. Shaw. 2009. Peat Mosses of the Southeastern United States. New York: New York Botanical Garden Press. 111 p.
  • Crandall-Stotler, B.J., and S.E. Bartholomew-Began. 2007. Morphology of Mosses (Phylum Bryophyta). In Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. Flora of North America north of Mexico 27: 3–13. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Crum, H. A. 1988. A Focus on Peatlands and Peat Mosses. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 306 p.
  • Crum, H.S., and L.E. Anderson. 1981. Mosses of Eastern North America. Vol 1. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Glime, J.M. 2007. Economic and Ethnic Uses of Bryophtyes. In Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. Flora of North America north of Mexico 27: 14–41. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Lopez-Gunn, E., P. Zorrilla Miras, and R. Llamas. 2011. The Impossible Dream? The Upper Guadiana system: aligning changes in ecological systems with changes in social systems. Retrieved 28 June 2012 from http://www.siwi.org/documents/Resources/Best/2010/2011_OTWF_Elena_Lopez_Gunn.pdf.
  • McQueen, C.B., and R.E. Andrus. 2007. 2. Sphagnaceae Dumortier. In Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. Flora of North America north of Mexico 27: 45–101. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Wikipedia. 2012. Peat [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 2012 Jun 25, 19:40 UTC [cited 2012 Jun 27]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Peat&oldid=499331815.
  • Wikipedia 2012. Tablas de Daimiel National Park [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. May 27, 16:54 UTC [cited 2012 Jun 28]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tablas_de_Daimiel_National_Park&oldid=494640716.
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Wikipedia

Sphagnum

Sphagnum is a genus of approximately 120 species[1] of mosses. Sphagnum accumulations can store water, since both living and dead plants can hold large quantities of water inside their cells; plants may hold from 1 billion times as much water as their dry weight depending on the species.[2] The empty cells help retain water in drier conditions. Hence, as sphagnum moss grows, it can slowly spread into drier conditions, forming larger peatlands, both raised bogs and blanket bogs.[3] These peat accumulations then provide habitat for a wide array of peatland plants, including sedges and ericaceous shrubs, as well as orchids and carnivorous plants.[4] Sphagnum and the peat formed from it do not decay readily because of the phenolic compounds embedded in the moss's cell walls. In addition, bogs, like all wetlands, develop anaerobic soil conditions, which produces slower anaerobic decay rather than aerobic microbial action. Peat moss can also acidify its surroundings by taking up cations, such as calcium and magnesium, and releasing hydrogen ions. Under the right conditions, peat can accumulate to a depth of many meters. Different species of Sphagnum have different tolerance limits for flooding and pH, so any one peatland may have a number of different Sphagnum species.[5]

Individual peat moss plants consist of a main stem, with tightly arranged clusters of branch fascicles usually consisting of two or three spreading branches and two to four hanging branches. The top of the plant, or capitulum, has compact clusters of young branches. Along the stem are scattered leaves of various shapes, named stem leaves; the shape varies according to species. The leaves consist of two kinds of cells; small, green, living cells (chlorophyllose cells), and large, clear, structural, dead cells (hyaline cells). The latter have the large water-holding capacity.

Life cycle[edit]

Sphagnum, like all other land plants, has an alternation of generations; like other bryophytes, the haploid gametophyte generation is dominant and persistent. Unlike other mosses, the gametophytes have no rhizoids to assist in water uptake.[2] Sphagnum species can be unisexual (male or female, dioecious) or bisexual (male and female gametes produced from the same plant; monoecious); In North America, 80% of Sphagnum species are unisexual.[6] Gametophytes have substantial asexual reproduction by fragmentation, producing much of the living material in sphagnum peatlands.[7] Swimming sperm fertilize eggs contained in archegonia that remain attached to the female gametophyte. The sporophyte is relatively short-lived, and consists entirely of a shiny black, spherical spore capsule. Sporophytes are raised on stalks to facilitate spore dispersal, but unlike other mosses, Sphagnum stalks are produced by the maternal gametophyte. Tetrahedral haploid spores are produced in the sporophyte by meiosis, which are then dispersed when the capsule ruptures. The spores germinate to produce minute protonemae, which over time, develop the characteristic Sphagnum leaves.

Taxonomy and phylogeny[edit]

Peat moss can be distinguished from other moss species by its unique branch clusters. The plant and stem color, the shape of the branch and stem leaves, and the shape of the green cells are all characteristics used to identify peat moss to species. Sphagnum taxonomy has been very contentious since the early 1900s; most species require microscopic dissection to be identified. In the field, most Sphagnum species can be identified to one of four major sections of the genus—classification and descriptions follow Andrus 2007 (Flora North America):

Red sphagnum closeup

The reciprocal monophyly of these sections and two other minor ones (Rigida and Squarrosa) has been clarified using molecular phylogenetics.[8] All but two species normally identified as Sphagnum reside in one clade; two other species have recently been separated into new families within the Sphagnaceae reflecting an ancestral relationship with the Tasmanian endemic Ambuchanania and long phylogenetic distance to the rest of Sphagnum.[9] Within main clade of Sphagnum, phylogenetic distance is relatively short, and molecular dating methods suggest nearly all current Sphagnum species are descended from a radiation that occurred just 14 million years ago.[10]

Geographic distribution[edit]

Common sundew in a Sphagnum moss cushion

Sphagnum mosses occur mainly in the Northern Hemisphere in peat bogs, conifer forests and moist tundra areas. Their northernmost populations lie in the archipelago of Svalbard, Arctic Norway at 81° N.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the largest peat areas are in southern Chile and Argentina, part of the vast Magellanic Moorland (circa 44,000 square km).[11] Peat areas are also found in New Zealand and Tasmania. In the Southern Hemisphere, however, peat landscapes may contain many moss species other than Sphagnum. Sphagnum species are also reported from "dripping rocks" in mountainous, subtropical Brazil.[12]

Spore dispersal[edit]

As with many other mosses, Sphagnum species disperse spores through the wind. The tops of spore capsules are only about 1 cm above ground, and where wind is weak. As the spherical spore capsule dries, the operculum is forced off, followed by a cloud of spores. The exact mechanism has traditionally attributed to a "pop gun" method using air compressed in the capsule, reaching a maximum velocity of 3.6 meters per second,[13] but alternative mechanisms have been recently proposed.[14] High-speed photography has shown vortex rings are created during the discharge, which enable the spores to reach a height of 10 to 20 cm, further than would be expected by ballistics alone. The acceleration of the spores is about 36,000G.[15][16] Spores are extremely important in establishment of new populations in disturbed habitats and on islands.[17]

Uses[edit]

Peat moss soil amendment, made of partly decayed, dried sphagnum moss.

Decayed, dried sphagnum moss has the name of peat or peat moss. This is used as a soil conditioner which increases the soil's capacity to hold water and nutrients by increasing capillary forces and cation exchange capacity. This is often necessary when dealing with very sandy soil, or plants that need increased or steady moisture content to flourish. A distinction is sometimes made between sphagnum moss, the live moss growing on top of a peat bog, and 'sphagnum peat moss' (North American usage) or 'sphagnum peat' (British usage), the latter being the slowly decaying matter underneath.[18]

Dried sphagnum moss is also used in northern Arctic regions as an insulating material.

Anaerobic acidic sphagnum bogs have low rates of decay, and hence preserve plant fragments and pollen to allow reconstruction of past environments.[19] They even preserve human bodies for millennia; examples of these preserved specimens are Tollund Man, Haraldskær Woman, Clonycavan Man and Lindow Man. Such bogs can also preserve human hair and clothing, one of the most noteworthy examples being Egtved Girl, Denmark. Because of the acidity of peat, however, bones are dissolved rather than preserved. These bogs have also been used to preserve food.[20] Up to 2000-year-old containers of butter or lard have been found.[21]

Sphagnum moss has also been used for centuries as a dressing for wounds, including through World War I.[22][23] Since it is absorptive and extremely acidic, it inhibits growth of bacteria and fungi, so it is used for shipping seeds and live plants. However, see Health dangers below.

Peat moss is used to dispose of the clarified liquid output (effluent) from septic tanks in areas that lack the proper conditions for ordinary disposal means. It is also used as an environmentally friendly alternative to chlorine in swimming pool sanitation.[24] The moss inhibits the growth of microbes and reduces the need for chlorine in swimming pools.[25]

In New Zealand, both the species S. cristatum and S. subnitens are harvested by hand and exported worldwide for use as hanging basket liners, as a growing medium for young orchids, and mixed with other potting mixes to enhance their moisture retaining value.

Peat moss is a critical element for growing mushrooms. The fungal mycelium grows in compost with a layer of peat moss on top, through which the mushrooms come out, a process called casing.

Peat moss, dead or alive, is also a very important soil and topper for most carnivorous plants.

In the 7th Framework Programme Mossclone peat mosses multiplied in moss bioreactors are developed as a new tool to monitor air pollution.

Conservation[edit]

Mer Bleue Conservation Area, a large, protected Sphagnum bog near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Several of the world's largest wetlands are sphagnum-dominated bogs, including the West Siberian Lowland, the Hudson Bay Lowland and the Mackenzie River Valley. These areas provide habitat for common and for rare species. They also store large amounts of carbon, which helps reduce global warming.[26]

Is sphagnum peat moss a non-renewable resource? The U.S. gets up to 80% of sphagnum peat moss it uses from Canada. In Canada, it has been estimated that new peat bog mass accumulates 60 times faster than the amount harvested each year. Approximately .02 percent of the 270 million acres of Canadian peat bog are used for peat moss mining. [27] There are some efforts made to restore peat bogs after peat mining. There is some debate as to whether the peat bogs can be restored to their pre-mining condition, and how long the process takes. ″The North American Wetlands Conservation Council estimates that harvested peatlands can be restored to ′ecologically balanced systems′ – if not peat bogs – within five to 20 years after peat harvesting.″ Some wetlands scientists assert that ″... a managed bog bears little resemblance to a natural one. Like tree farms, these peatlands tend toward monoculture, lacking the biodiversity of an un- harvested bog.″[28]

Coir has been touted as a sustainable alternative to peat moss in growing media.[29] Another peat moss alternative is manufactured in California from sustainably harvested redwood fiber.

Europe[edit]

Europe has a long history of the exploitation of peatlands. The Netherlands, for example, once had large areas of peatland, both fen and bog. Between 100 AD and the present, they were drained and converted to agricultural land.[30] The English broadlands have small lakes that originated as peat mines.[31] More than 90% of the bogs in England have been damaged or destroyed.[32][33] A handful of bogs have been preserved through government buyouts of peat-mining interests.[34] Over longer time scales, however, some parts of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales have seen expansion of bogs, particularly blanket bogs, in response to deforestation and abandonment of agricultural land.[35]

New Zealand[edit]

New Zealand has, like the rest of the world, lost large areas of peatland; the latest estimates for wetland loss in New Zealand are 90% over 150 years.[36] In some cases, better care is taken during the harvesting of Sphagnum to ensure enough moss is remaining to allow regrowth. An eight-year cycle is suggested,but some sites require a longer cycle of 11 to 32 years for full recovery of biomass, depending on factors including whether reseeding is done, light intensity, and the water table.[37] This "farming" is based on a sustainable management program approved by New Zealand's Department of Conservation; it ensures the regeneration of the moss, while protecting the wildlife and the environment. Most harvesting in New Zealand swamps is done only using pitchforks without the use of heavy machinery. During transportation, helicopters are commonly employed to transfer the newly harvested moss from the swamp to the nearest road.

Health dangers[edit]

Sphagnum moss can potentially harbour the fungi causing the chronic disease sporotrichosis.[38] Sporothrix schenckii spores enter the skin via abrasions, scratches, and small puncture wounds as a result of unprotected contact exposure to Sphagnum moss.[39]

Species[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Sphagnum on theplantlist". Theplantlist.org. Retrieved 2013-09-11. 
  2. ^ a b Bold, H.C. 1967. Morphology of Plants. second ed. Harper and Row, New York. p. 225-229.
  3. ^ Gorham, E. (1957). The development of peatlands. Quarterly Review of Biology, 32, 145–66.
  4. ^ Keddy, P.A. (2010). Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (2nd edition). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 497 p.
  5. ^ Vitt, D. H. and Slack, N. G. (1984). Niche diversification of Sphagnum relative to environmental factors in northern Minnesota peatlands. Canadian Journal of Botany, 62, 1409–30.
  6. ^ Andrus, Richard. Sphagnum. Flora of North America. 2007
  7. ^ Rydin, Hakan and Jeglum, John K. 2006. Biology of Peatlands. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  8. ^ Shaw, A.J.; Cox, C.; Boles, S.B. (2003). "Polarity of peatmoss (Sphagnum) evolution: who says bryophytes have no roots?". American Journal of Botany 90 (12): 1777–1787. doi:10.3732/ajb.90.12.1777. 
  9. ^ Shaw, A.J. et al. [1] Newly resolved relationships in an early land plant lineage: Bryophyta class Sphagnopsida (peat mosses) American Journal of Botany 97: 1511-1531 (2010)
  10. ^ Shaw, A.J. et al. Peatmoss (Sphagnum) diversification associated with Miocene Northern Hemisphere climatic cooling? Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution Volume 55, Issue 3, June 2010, Pages 1139-1145.
  11. ^ Arroyo, M.T.K., P. Mihoc, P. Pliscoff and M. Arroyo-Kalin. (2005). The Magellanic moorland. P. 424-445 in L.H. Fraser and P.A. Keddy (eds.). The World’s Largest Wetlands: Ecology and Conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
  12. ^ Crum, H. (1991). Two new species of Sphagnum from Brazil. The Bryologist 94: 301-303.
  13. ^ Sebastian Sundberg (2010). "Size matters for violent discharge height and settling speed of Sphagnum spores: important attributes for dispersal potential". Annals of Botany 105 (2): 291–300. doi:10.1093/aob/mcp288. PMC 2814761. PMID 20123930. 
  14. ^ Jeff Duckett; Pressel, Silvia; P’ng, Ken M. Y.; Renzaglia, Karen S. (2009). "Exploding a myth: the capsule dehiscence mechanism and the function of pseudostomata in Sphagnum". New Phytologist 183 (4): 1053–63. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2009.02905.x. PMID 19552695. 
  15. ^ Johan L. van Leeuwen (July 23, 2010). "Launched at 36,000g". Science 329 (5990): 395–6. doi:10.1126/science.1193047. PMID 20651138. 
  16. ^ Dwight L. Whitaker and Joan Edwards (July 23, 2010). "Sphagnum Moss Disperses Spores with Vortex Rings". Science 329 (5990): 406. doi:10.1126/science.1190179. PMID 20651145. 
  17. ^ Sundberg, S (2005). "Larger capsules enhance short-range spore dispersal in Sphagnum, but what happens further away?". Oikos 108 (1): 115–124. doi:10.1111/j.0030-1299.2005.12916.x. 
  18. ^ Hood, Gerry (January, 1995). "Don't Confuse Sphagnum Moss with Peat Moss". African Violet Magazine, p. 34
  19. ^ Keddy, P.A. 2010. Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (2nd edition). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 497 p.
  20. ^ Madrigal, Alexis. Bogosphere: The Strangest Things Pulled Out of Peat Bogs. Wired Magazine. 21 Aug. 2009
  21. ^ Bog Butter Test. New Scientist. 20 March 2004.
  22. ^ Bold, H.C. 1967. Morphology of Plants. second ed. Harper and Row, New York. p. 226.
  23. ^ "Facts about Peat Moss (Sphagnum) - Encyclopedia of Life". Eol.org. Retrieved 2013-09-11. 
  24. ^ Moss Proving An Alternative To Chlorine In Pools. WCCO. 15 Aug. 2008.
  25. ^ Hill, Catey. Time to fire the pool boy? Moss helps pools stay clean. Daily News. 29 Oct. 2009.
  26. ^ Fraser, L.H. and P.A. Keddy (eds.). 2005. The World’s Largest Wetlands: Ecology and Conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 488 p.
  27. ^ Trail, Jesse Vernon. The truth about peat moss. The Ecologist. 25 Jan. 2013.
  28. ^ Priesnitz, Wendy. Ask Natural Life: Does Peat Moss Have a Place In the Ecological Garden. Natural Life Magazine. 1 Jul. 2012.
  29. ^ Richards, Davi. Coir is sustainable alternative to peat moss in the garden. Oregon State University Extension Service.
  30. ^ Keddy, P.A. 2010. Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (2nd edition). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 497 p. Figure 14.2
  31. ^ Moss, B. (1984). Medieval man-made lakes: progeny and casualties of English social history, patients of twentieth century ecology. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa, 45, 115–28.
  32. ^ Insight into threatened peat bogs. BBC News.
  33. ^ The RSPB: Policy
  34. ^ Jeffery, Simon. Bogs to be preserved for peat's sake. The Guardian. 27 Feb. 2002.
  35. ^ Keddy, P.A. 2010. Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (2nd edition). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 497 p. Figure 11.8.
  36. ^ Peters, M. and Clarkson, B. 2010. Wetland Restoration: A Handbook for New Zealand Freshwater Systems. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln, N.Z. ISBN 978-0-478-34707-4 (online)
  37. ^ Sphagnum research programme: the ecological effects of commercial harvesting Department of Conservation R.P. Buxton, P.N. Johnson and P.R. Espie. Wellington, N.Z. Department of Conservation, 1996 ISBN 0478017871 http://www.doc.govt.nz/documents/science-and-technical/sfc025.pdf (Retrieved 10 January 2013)
  38. ^ "Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Sporotrichosis Associated with Wisconsin Sphagnum Moss". Cdc.gov. Retrieved 2013-09-11. 
  39. ^ "Sporotrichosis". Health.ny.gov. Retrieved 2013-09-11. 

References[edit]

Eddy, A. (1988). A Handbook of Malesian Mosses. Volume 1. Sphagnales to Dicranales. UK: British Museum (Natural History). pp. 202 pp. ISBN 0-565-01038-7. 

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