Sphagnum Moss

Bryophytes

Description

Sphagnum mosses are the amazingly multi-coloured living carpets found in wet places like peat bogs, marshland, heath and moorland. When seen up close, they are very beautiful, but they also play a very important role in the creation of peat bogs: they hold water in their spongy forms long after the surrounding soil has dried out. In this way, they provide essential nutrients to the soil and help to prevent the decay of organic matter which gets compressed over hundreds of years to form peat.

There are at least ten species of Sphagnum moss in the UK, which are very difficult to tell apart. These species range in colour from red and pink, to orange and green. Sphagnum mosses are very small, but they grow together in close proximity forming spongy carpets; 'hummocks' are created when the mosses grow together to form mounds up to a metre high.

Spahgnum Moss.  Photograph by Tim Walter.

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95% of UK wetlands have vanished over the last 300 years due to drainage and pressures of land use



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