• Kingdom : Plantae
  • Class: Musci/Bryopsida
  • Order: Sphagnales
  • Family: Sphagnaceae
  • Genus: Sphagnum
  • General characteristics

    1. Sphagnum is a genus of about 380 species moss.
    2. It is commonly known as peat moss or bog moss.
    3. Main plant body is gametophytic and differentiated into axis and leaves.
    4. The plants are perennial and grow in swamps and moist habitats.
    5. Plants may hold 16 to 26 times as much water as their dry weight.
    6. Dead plant parts do not decompose easily because of the presence of phenolic compounds in the cell wall.
    7. Mature plants possess three types of branches- i) pendent branches, ii) divergent branches, and iii) coma branches.
    8. Plants do not have a vascular system.
    9. Leaves are single layered with two distinct types of cells.
      1. Small, green, living cells with chlorophyll (chlorophyllose cells) that produce food for the plant.
      2. Larger hyaline cells that are barrel shaped and have a pore at one end to allow for water absorption and improved water-holding capacity. These cells have spiral thickenings.
    Sphagnum diagram
    Sphagnum: habit of plant body and whole mount (WM) of a leaf. (image source: ResearchGate) 


    1. Dried sphagnum (peat moss) is used in horticulture to enhance the water retaining capacity.
    2. These are used to make moss stick to grow other plants.
    3. Dried plants are used for dressing on the grafted part of the two plants.
    4. During World War I it was used in place of cotton in surgical dressing to heal the wounds.
    5. Because of the acidic nature, it is extremely resistant to degradation of bacteria and fungi and hence used in transportation of plant materials.
    6. Peat moss is used to grown orchids.

    Content first created on 26-02-2024
    last updated on 26-02-2024