Bryophytes (Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts) •


(Sphagnum flexuosum)



A medium-sized species that grows in carpets; green, or with a yellowish tinge; never a strong mustard-brown. Stem and branches are pale, never with any pink. Outer capitulum branches are particularly long and pale, stellate, contrasting with inner branches, which are often concentrically arranged when viewed from above. Pendent and spreading branches are not as clearly differentiated as in S. fallax and S. angustifolium. Pendent branches are usually shorter than spreading branches. Spreading branch leaves are, at most, in straight lines in the basal two-thirds of the branch. Branch leaves are larger and more loosely inserted than in S. angustifolium, giving a shaggy appearance. Stem leaves are triangularly tongue-shaped to tongueshaped, longer than wide, and with a blunt, more or less fringed tip. When dry, the spreading branch leaves have a puffed out appearance (see inset photograph). Capsules are not known in Britain and Ireland. 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.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Bryophyta
Class: Sphagnopsida
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