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Plant of the Week! Bryophyte Edition! Sphagnum spp.

Plant of the Week! Bryophyte edition! Wisconsin is home to over 30 species of Sphagnum moss. They occur on wet sites and are the defining species of bogs, forming the substrate both as living, floating mats, and with layers of dead, decaying material making up organic peat soils, which can go many feet deep. This thick layer of peat and growing Sphagnum essentially cuts off the bog from nutrients. The moss also acidifies its environment. These two factors make for low plant diversity within bogs, but the plants that inhabit them are highly specialized, and few are common in other places. Sphagnum moss is of great economic value in Wisconsin: among other uses, it’s a staple component in potting mixes. Harvesting peat and Sphagnum is a controversial practice, however, as it takes years for the vegetation to recover. To learn more about bogs, visit: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/EndangeredResources/Communities.asp?mode=detail&Code=CPSHR054WIS . For more on Sphagnum, including photos, look here: https://www4.uwsp.edu/biology/courses/plantid/002-Sphagnum.htm . And while you’re there, click around and learn about some other Wisconsin Bryophytes! Go on, you earned it!

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