Bryophytes (Mosses, Liverworts, and Hornworts) • Earth.com

Sphagnum

(Sphagnum subtile)

galery
en

Description

Sphagnum�is a�genus�of approximately 380 accepted�species�of�mosses, commonly known as "peat moss". Accumulations of�Sphagnumcan store water, since both living and dead plants can hold large quantities of water inside their cells; plants may hold 16�26 times as much water as their dry weight, depending on the species.The empty cells help retain water in drier conditions. Hence, as sphagnum moss grows, it can slowly spread into drier conditions, forming larger�mires, both raised�bogs�and�blanket bogs.�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.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.

Taxonomic tree:

Domain:
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Bryophyta
Class: Sphagnopsida
Order:Sphagnales
Family:Sphagnaceae
Genus:Sphagnum
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