Sphagnum, also popularly known as peat moss belongs to the group of plants known as Bryophytes. It is highly important and has many uses. Bryophytes belong to the category of lower plants along with algae and fungi. It is in fact the only plant in the Bryophytes group that has some importance.
1. It can hold large amounts of water and is therefore used for packing live plants and cut flowers which can then be shipped. It thus prevents flowers from drying quickly.
2. Used to pack grafts.
3. Also used in gardening as a substratum for seed germination.
4. It has antiseptic properties and has been sued for gauge to dress wounds. Also used in surgical dressing in hospitals.
5. The water in which Sphagnum grows is very acidic and therefore decay process is slow. The accumulated deposits of dead, partially decomposed and hardened dead plant form what is known as peat. This is why Sphagnum is also known as peat moss or bog moss. Peat is brownish in colour and very rich in carbon. It can be air dried to use as a fuel.
6. Peat is also used in horticulture industry.
7 Peat can be added to clayey soils to improve texture.
8. For sandy soils, it helps in improving their water retention capacity.
Image credit: James Lindsey at Ecology of Commanster
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