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Sphagnum

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Sphagnum
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Bryophyta
Class: Bryopsida
Subclass:Sphagnidae
Order:Sphagnales
Family:Sphagnaceae
Genus:Sphagnum
Species

See text

Sphagnum is a genus of mosses commonly called peat moss due to its prevalence in peat bogs. Members of this genus can hold large quantities of water inside their cells; some species can hold up to 20 times their dry weight in water, which is why peat moss is commonly sold as a soil amendment. Peat moss can acidify its surroundings.

Individual peat moss plants consist of a main stem with tightly arranged clusters of branch fascicles usually consisting of 2-3 spreading branches and 2-4 hanging branches. The branches are covered by ovate to lanceolate leaves called branch leaves. The top of the plant, or capitulum, has compact clusters of young branches. Along the stem are scattered leaves of various shape named stem leaves. The shape varies according to species. The leaves consist of two kinds of cell; small green living cells (chlorophyllose cells) and large, clear structural dead cells (hyaline cells). The latter have a large water holding capacity.

Spores are released from specialized black, shiny capsules located at the tips of thin stalks. Sphagnum species also reproduce by fragmentation.

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.

Geographic distribution

Peat mosses occur mainly in the Northern Hemisphere where different species dominate the bottom layer of peat bogs and moist tundra areas. The northernmost populations of peat moss lie in the archipelago of Svalbard, arctic Norway at 81° N. New Zealand, Tasmania and southernmost Chile and Peru house the largest peat moss areas in the Southern Hemisphere, but containing comparatively few species. Many species are reported from mountainous, subtropical Brazil, but uncertainty exists regarding the specific status of many of them.

Uses

Sphagnum moss is used as a soil amendment, packing material, absorbent, and fuel. Historically it has been used as bandage material because of its acidic, antibacterial quality and as a replacement for diapers.da:TÝrvemosser de:Torfmoose eo:Sfagnoj lt:Kiminas no:Torvmose

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