Sphagnum moss and peat

Photos: Arne Ader
Translation: Liis
Sphagnum moss
Sphagnum moss
Turbasammal      Sphagnum
How does Sphagnum moss become peat?
The peat mosses have no roots. The plants grow on in their visible above-ground part, while the lower parts of the moss decay. In the dense layer of peat that is formed little air remains, and so the plant pieces don’t deteriorate completely, and not soil but peat is formed, that consists of half-decayed plant parts. Our peat bogs increase their layer of peat by about a millimetre per year; with thousands of years this has grown to three-four metres, in places of course many times more.
A remarkable number of sphagnum mosses grow in Estonia – 37 species; they are all very similar and for a precise identification an expert and a microscope are needed. The colour depends on the season and most of all the amount of water – varying from bright green to dark red or brown. The plant can store up to some twenty times its own weight of fluid in its water storage cells.

Thus the Sphagnum mosses successfully survive drought periods, but then the  colour becomes paler.

Sphagnum mosses. Männikjärve bog, Endla bog area




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