Biology 130


Sphagnum spp.; peat moss [Sphagnaceae]  Common, widespread moss of wet habitats where it often forms large, deep colonies or floating mats.  Peat moss is the fundamental species of bogs, acidifying the habitat and forming much of the substrate in which the other plants grow.  Typically grows with upright stems supported by close growth with neighboring plants.  Young branches arranged spirally near the apex, older branches in clusters along the stem.  Spherical brown-to-black sporophyte capsules expel spores explosively when mature.  Plant growth is rather unusual with the apical portion actively growing while the older parts die and eventually decay into peat.  Sphagnum is by far the most economically important of the bryophytes and is used extensively as a soil amendment, packing material and fuel.  More than 30 species occur in Wisconsin.  [002]


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