The latest estimates for wetland loss in New Zealand are 90% over 150 years. There are normal photosynthesising cells with chlorophyll. The acceleration of the spores is about 36,000G. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. Moss helps pools stay clean. Arroyo, M.T.K., P. Mihoc, P. Pliscoff and M. Arroyo-Kalin. (2005). About 0.02% of the 1.1 million km2 (422,000 square miles) of Canadian peat bog are used for peat moss mining. [17] Peat areas are also found in New Zealand and Tasmania. Coir is sustainable alternative to peat moss in the garden. Sphagnum moss (Sphagnum species) has been used for thousands of years. Hyophila involuta (Cement Moss) and Brachythecium Buchanani figure in International Union for Conservation of … Introduction to Bryology. [4], Sphagnum species can be unisexual (male or female, dioecious) or bisexual (male and female gametes produced from the same plant; monoecious); In North America, 80% of Sphagnum species are unisexual. Their absorbency was remarkable. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln, N.Z. Different species of Sphagnum have different tolerance limits for flooding and pH, so any one peatland may have a number of different Sphagnum species.[9][7]. Sphagnum moss has also been used as a "green" alternative to water purification in public swimming pools; it inhibits bacterial growth, and greatly reduces the amount of chlorine required to maintain sanitary water References [ edit ] ^ Edwards, Sean R. (2012). The Magellanic moorland. They also store large amounts of carbon, which helps reduce global warming. Sphagnum Moss is designed to kill germs but it does have some cleaning properties. [45] This "farming" is based on a sustainable management program approved by New Zealand's Department of Conservation; it ensures the regeneration of the moss, while protecting the wildlife and the environment. It is also used as an environmentally friendly alternative to chlorine in swimming pool sanitation. Macmillan Publ. That’s a good thing, because the real value of this plant goes far beyond bandages. Moss was also used by Native Americans, who lined their children’s cradles and carriers with it as a type of natural diaper. Sewell of the General Hospital in Alexandria, Egypt wrote approvingly that, “It is very absorbent, far more than cotton wool, and has remarkable deodorizing power.” Lab experiments around the same time vindicated his observations: Sphagnum moss can hold up to 22 times its own weight in liquid, making it twice as absorptive as cotton. Two of the moss species found here i.e. Bogosphere: The Strangest Things Pulled Out of Peat Bogs. Wetland Restoration: A Handbook for New Zealand Freshwater Systems. Lorraine Boissoneault is a contributing writer to SmithsonianMag.com covering history and archaeology. [41][42] A handful of bogs has been preserved through government buyouts of peat-mining interests. “So long as the peat underneath [the living moss] was not disturbed, the peat is going to keep acting like a sponge, so it enables regrowth of Sphagnum,” says Kimmerer. Communities around the United Kingdom and North America organized outings to collect moss so the demand for bandages could be met. [39], Europe has a long history of the exploitation of peatlands. “Germany was more active than any of the Allies in utilizing Sphagnum … the bogs of north-eastern Germany and Bavaria provided seemingly inexhaustible supplies. A distinction is sometimes made between sphagnum moss, the live moss growing on top of a peat bog, and 'sphagnum peat moss' (North American usage) or 'sphagnum peat' (British usage), the latter being the slowly decaying matter underneath.[24]. Additionally there are larger Aline or retort cells. crushed, was a strong antibiotic compound, and ground green sphagnum moss (Sp. Semi-open cell polyurethane materials available in flaked and sheet stock are also finding application as sphagnum replacements with typical usage in green wall and roof garden substrates. [44] In some cases, better care is taken during the harvesting of Sphagnum to ensure enough moss is remaining to allow regrowth. Sphagnum mosses have two distinct cell types. Sporophytes are raised on stalks to facilitate spore dispersal, but unlike other mosses, Sphagnum stalks are produced by the maternal gametophyte. In the last months of 1914, doctors like Sir. P. 424-445 in L.H. [15] Within main clade of Sphagnum, phylogenetic distance is relatively short, and molecular dating methods suggest nearly all current Sphagnum species are descended from a radiation that occurred just 14 million years ago.[16]. That means that a 14"/350mm liner which contains about 150 grams of Moss, can hold about 3 litres … Dried sphagnum moss is used in northern Arctic regions as an insulating material. California Do Not Sell My Info As the story goes, in 1919, there was a fierce fight between Russia’s White Guard and the Red Army. Of course, this works best if you have live sphagnum moss and make the antiseptic as needed, but it also works with dried Sphagnum : the Healing Harvest Introduction Species of Sphagnum Moss or Bog Moss, as it is sometimes known, are major peat forming plants which grow in wet, boggy places often forming large mounds or cushions over In 1916, the Canadian Red Cross Society in Ontario provided over 1 million dressings, nearly 2 million compresses and 1 million pads for wounded soldiers in Europe, using moss collected from British Columbia, Nova Scotia and other swampy, coastal regions. But humans have also used it for at least 1,000 years to help heal their injuries. [38], Harvesting aside, bogs where Sphagnum grows have also come under threat by the development of wind farms in cool humid areas such as the Cordillera del Piuchén where the San Pedro Wind Farm was constructed in the 2010s. Thus tissues are thin and usually one cell thick to allow these to diffuse easily. Given Sphagnums property to absorb excess water and release it during dry months harvesting of Sphagnum, means that overexploitation may threaten the water supply in the fjords and channels of Chile. Swimming sperm fertilize eggs contained in archegonia that remain attached to the female gametophyte. In part, because the immense amount of labor required to collect it, Anderson says (although manufacturers in the U.S. experimented with using the moss for sanitary napkins called Sfag-Na-Kins). India’s first moss garden has been developed at Khurpatal in Nainital district, officials said on Saturday. [10], Gametophytes have substantial asexual reproduction by fragmentation, producing much of the living material in sphagnum peatlands.[11]. "[32], PittMoss, a peat moss alternative made from recycled newspaper, has emerged as a sustainable substitute in growing media. In the Southern Hemisphere, however, peat landscapes may contain many moss species other than Sphagnum. 11.8. And while humans are no longer picking them for bandages, scientists fear that bogs and swamplands could be drained or negatively impacted by agriculture and industry, or the peat will be used for biofuel. If you are just doing a general maintenance clean, Sphag Moss is great to use anywhere you like and I have many customers who use it all . Sphagnum, like all other land plants, has an alternation of generations; like other bryophytes, the haploid gametophyte generation is dominant and persistent. Peat moss refers to the product gardeners purchase in bales or large bags for use as a soil amendment. Privacy Statement The top of the plant is called the capitulum, a rosette of leaves which gather the majority of the plant's energy through photosynthesis. The water-holding capacity is again the main reason for using the moss. It continued to be used sporadically when battles erupted, including during the Napoleonic and Franco-Prussian wars. [33] Coir has also been touted as a sustainable alternative to peat moss in growing media. The 1880's tests of antiseptic properties of peat and peat moss failed, the sterilization methods overrode the physiological effects of Sphagnum dressings. The exact mechanism has traditionally attributed to a "pop gun" method using air compressed in the capsule, reaching a maximum velocity of 3.6 meters per second,[19] but alternative mechanisms have been recently proposed. They tried everything from irrigating the wounds with chlorine solutions to creating bandages infused with carbolic acid, formaldehyde or mercury chloride, with varying degrees of success. So why aren’t we still using moss bandages today? In addition, bogs, like all wetlands, develop anaerobic soil conditions, which produces slower anaerobic decay rather than aerobic microbial action. DESCRIPTION • Common names: peat moss, bog moss, turf moss • ‘Sphagnum’ would refer to the genus of between 151 and 350 species of mosses. [38] Harvested Sphagnum fibers may not exceed 15 cm in length and the remaining Sphagnum after harvest may never have a length less than 5 cm over the water table. Sphagnum Moss Disinfectant is a gentle yet powerful naturally derived disinfectant and hard surface cleaner boosted with a synergistic blend of antimicrobial plant extracts. 2010. [40] They have pores and soak up water like a sponge. Advertising Notice Isaac Bayley Balfour, Sphagnum moss, and the Great War (1914–1918) Share You have requested the following article: Archives of Natural History, April 2015, vo. Peat moss and sphagnum moss are products from a class of bryophytes (mosses) called Sphagnopsida. Keep up-to-date on: © 2020 Smithsonian Magazine. [21][22] Spores are extremely important in establishment of new populations in disturbed habitats and on islands. Harper and Row, New York. These areas provide habitat for common and rare species. Hood, Gerry (January 1995). Individual peat moss plants consist of a main stem, with tightly arranged clusters of branch fascicles usually consisting of two or three spreading branches and two to four hanging branches. [37] Since 2018 Chilean law allows only for the manual extraction of Sphagnum using only pitchforks or similar tools as an aid. Editor's Note, May 1, 2017: This article originally stated that peat moss releases protons (it releases positively charged ions, known as cations). "Don't Confuse Sphagnum Moss with Peat Moss". second ed. Between 100 AD and the present, they were drained and converted to agricultural land.[8]:Fig. This remarkable spongelike quality comes from Sphagnum’s cellular structure, says Robin Kimmerer, professor of ecology at SUNY-Environmental Science and Forestry and the author of Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses. Sphagnum moss also has antiseptic properties. Yes, moss, the plant. During transportation, helicopters are commonly employed to transfer the newly harvested moss from the swamp to the nearest road. Sphagnum Moss also provides antiseptic properties because it contains a phenolic compound called “Sphagnol", which helps the plant resist diseases and parasites. [8] They even preserve human bodies for millennia; examples of these preserved specimens are Tollund Man, Haraldskær Woman, Clonycavan Man and Lindow Man. One organizer in the United Kingdom instructed volunteers to “fill the sacks only about three-quarter full, drag them to the nearest hard ground, and then dance on them to extract the larger percentage of water.”, At Longshaw Lodge in Derbyshire, England, the nurses who tended convalescing soldiers trooped out to the damp grounds to collect moss for their wounds. This eco friendly product will quickly and completely disinfect hard and soft surfaces, deodorises air and eliminate odours. Tetrahedral haploid spores are produced in the sporophyte by meiosis, which are then dispersed when the capsule explosively discharges its cap, called an operculum, and shoots the spores some distance. Morphology of Plants. [4] The empty cells help retain water in drier conditions. Their northernmost populations lie in the archipelago of Svalbard, Arctic Norway, at 81° N. In the Southern Hemisphere, the largest peat areas are in southern Chile and Argentina, part of the vast Magellanic moorland (circa 44,000 square km). [31] Some efforts are being made to restore peat bogs after peat mining, and some debate exists as to whether the peat bogs can be restored to their premining condition and how long the process takes. In Canada, the peat bog mass harvested each year is an estimated 1/60th of the mass that accumulates. Along the stem are scattered leaves of various shapes, named stem leaves; the shape varies according to species. In the field, most Sphagnum species can be identified to one of four major sections of the genus—classification and descriptions follow Andrus 2007 (Flora North America):[10], The reciprocal monophyly of these sections and two other minor ones (Rigida and Squarrosa) has been clarified using molecular phylogenetics. The plant’s cell walls are composed of special sugar molecules that “create an electrochemical halo around all of the cells, and the cell walls end up being negatively charged,” Kimmerer says. The tops of spore capsules are only about 1 cm above ground, and where wind is weak. 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. Sphagnan, a polysaccharide from Sphagnum cell walls, discovered 1983, inhibits microbial growth, tans the collagen and removes ammonia from microbial environments. The leaves consist of two kinds of cells: small, green, living cells (chlorophyllose cells), and large, clear, structural, dead cells (hyaline cells). Oxford University Press, Oxford. But it wasn’t until World War I that medical experts realized the plant's full potential. Sphagnum Moss is a self-regenerating plant, growing in swamps, which after harvesting, is allowed to rest and regrow. Again the moss is tightly packed around the wound created for the purpose of providing a medium for root growth. "Fragmentos de la historia ambiental del sistema de fiordos y canales nor-patagónicos, Sur de Chile: Dos siglos de explotación", "Ministerio de Agricultura dicta decreto que regula extracción de musgo de turberas", "Dispone Medidas Para La Protección Del Musgo, http://www.doc.govt.nz/documents/science-and-technical/sfc025.pdf, Website about sphagnum farming in Germany, in English and German, Guide to wetland restoration in New Zealand, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sphagnum&oldid=992141515, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 3 December 2020, at 18:46. [35], In the 2010s, Sphagnum peat in Chile has begun to be harvested at a large scale for export to countries like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States. Sphagnum moss has also been used for centuries as a dressing for wounds, including through World War I. [36] Extraction of Sphagnum in Chile is regulated by law since 2 August 2018. [25] Up to 2000-year-old containers of butter or lard have been found.[26]. [13] It is unknown whether the leafy stage can produce such gemmae. Such bogs can also preserve human hair and clothing, one of the most noteworthy examples being Egtved Girl, Denmark. The World's Largest Wetlands: Ecology and Conservation. And as botanist P.G. The main body consists of a stem and branches, with leaves also protruding from both the stem and the branches. “Those negative charges mean that positively charged nutrient ions [like potassium, sodium and calcium] are going to be attracted to the sphagnum.” As the moss soaks up all the negatively charged nutrients in the soil, it releases positively charged ions that make the environment around it acidic. Ayres writes, sphagnum was just as popular on the other side of the battle lines. These bogs have also been used to preserve food. And nowhere does the giant moss grow better than in the swamps of the West Coast, where the fiercely independent locals are fuelling an industry with a future as impressive as their own landscape. The plant’s cell walls are composed of special sugar molecules that “create an electrochemical … Sphagnum research programme: the ecological effects of commercial harvesting Department of Conservation R. P. Buxton, P. N. Johnson and P. R. Espie. [12] This stage dominates the environment where Sphagnum grows, obliterating and burying the protonema and eventually building up into layers of dead moss called peat. Throughout history its uses have ranged from medicinal to clothing to food. Sphagnum moss Sphagnum Sphagnum mosses are the amazingly multi-coloured living carpets of moss found in wet places like peat bogs, marshland, heath and moorland. And from the Allies’ perspective, they were a renewable resource that would grow back without much difficulty. [34] Another peat moss alternative is manufactured in California from sustainably harvested redwood fiber. Time to fire the pool boy? Like tree farms, these peatlands tend toward monoculture, lacking the biodiversity of an unharvested bog. The top of the plant, or capitulum, has compact clusters of young branches. [38] In the regions of Los Ríos (40°S) and Los Lagos (41–43°S) the same plots may be harvested after 12 years, while further south in Aysén (44–48°S) and Magallanes (49–56°S) 85 years have to pass before the same area is harvested again. And although this moss has been used as an antiseptic and antifungal agent for about 1000 years, its “secret ingredient”has recently been revealed. Civilians and even Allied prisoners of war were conscripted to gather the moss.”, Each country had its own method for making the bandages, with the British stations filling bags loosely while the American Red Cross provided precise instructions for how to layer the moss with nonabsorbent cotton and gauze. Or, as they wrote: “Fas est et ab hoste doceri”—it is right to be taught even by the enemy. Because of its absorptive properties, it makes an excellent wound dressing and has been widely employed for this purpose in the past. • They are capable of holding British troops used over 1 million sphagnum dressings per month with the Germans likely to have used more. [38] In a given area (polygon) at least 30% of Sphagnum coverage has to be left unharvested. “[The British style] seems to have been looked down upon by the American Red Cross,” says Rachel Anderson, a project assistant in the division of medicine and science at the National Museum of American History who studied the museum’s collection of sphagnum bandages. Peters, M. and Clarkson, B. Sphagnum and the peat formed from it do not decay readily because of the phenolic compounds embedded in the moss's cell walls. sphagnum’s antiseptic properties used moss in a suspension of saline solution, inoculated with bacterial cultures, with samples withdrawn at intervals for plate counts (Painter 2003). However, the antibiotic and antiseptic properties of sphagnum moss is well-documented (Certainly in anecdotal accounts). Sphagnum moss also has antiseptic properties. English Names for British Bryophytes. Peatlands full of spaghnum and other mosses spend thousands of years accumulating carbon in their underground layers. A Scottish surgeon-and-botanist duo had an idea: stuff the wounds full of moss. Give a Gift. Biology of Peatlands. Sphagnum Moss Disinfectant is a gentle yet powerful naturally derived disinfectant and hard surface cleaner boosted with a synergistic blend of antimicrobial plant extracts. Website: http://www.lboissoneault.com/, Continue or The Sphagnum moss absorbs liquids about three times more quickly than cotton, is cooler, softer, and less irritating than cotton and has antiseptic properties. When the men wrote an article in the “Science and Nature” section of The Scotsman extolling the moss’s medicinal virtues, they noted that it was already widely used in Germany. The latter have the large water-holding capacity. 14.2 The English broadlands have small lakes that originated as peat mines. “Sphagnum and peatlands are really important pockets of biodiversity.” Even if we no longer require moss’s assistance with our scrapes and lacerations, we should still respect and preserve the rare habitats it creates. The lowermost parts of the plant are dead and decomposing underground. [5] Thus, sphagnum can influence the composition of such habitats, with some describing sphagnum as 'habitat manipulators'. In this case it also helps to allow air flow through the medium which will aid in root growth as well. Sphagnum moss is also used for air-layering. However, these phenolic compounds only … Sphagnum moss is The Government bought up tons of the bulbs, which were sent out to the front; the raw juice expressed, diluted with water, was put on swabs of sterilized Sphagnum Moss and applied to wounds. These unique cells mean Sphagnum can keep the habitat watery by releasing water to keep bogs waterlogged. But in the end, there simply wasn’t enough cotton—a substance that was already in high demand for uniforms and its recently discovered use as an explosive—to go around. They’re made to be empty so they can be filled with water.” In this case, humans took advantage of that liquid-absorbing capacity to soak up blood, pus and other bodily fluids. 1 … W. Watson Cheyne of the Royal College of Surgeons of England noted with horror the “great prevalence of sepsis,” the potentially life-threatening response triggered by a bad infection. Today, this tiny, star-shaped plant is known for its use in horticulture and biofuel, not to mention its starring role in preserving thousands-year-old "bog bodies" like the Tollund Man, which Smithsonian Magazine revisited last month. By 1918, 1 million dressings per month were being sent out of Britain to hospitals on continental Europe, in Egypt and even Mesopotamia. "Ask Natural Life: Does Peat Moss Have a Place In the Ecological Garden", Cellulose Based Soil Medium as a Peat Moss Substitute. “Moss drives” were announced in local papers, and volunteers included women of all ages and children. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. She has previously written for The Atlantic, Salon, Nautilus and others. This is often necessary when dealing with very sandy soil, or plants that need increased or steady moisture content to flourish. And by December 1915, a British report warned that the thousands of wounded men were threatening to exhaust the material for bandages. Vote Now! When this fungus and other agarics attack the protonema, Sphagnum is induced to produce nonphotosynthetic gemmae that can survive the fungal attack and months later germinate to produce new protonema and leafy gametophytes. “The same things that make sphagnum amazing for bandages are what enable it to be an ecosystem engineer, because it can create bogs,” Kimmerer says. Because of the acidity of peat, however, bones are dissolved rather than preserved. As the war raged on, the number of bandages needed skyrocketed, and sphagnum moss provided the raw material for more and more of them. Sphagnum taxonomy has been very contentious since the early 1900s; most species require microscopic dissection to be identified. It also featured a photo of a non-Spaghnum moss species. The water supports Sphagnum plants, making other strengthening structures unnecessary. There are over 30 species of Sphagnum moss in Scotland, ranging in colour from red and pink, to orange and green. Its use is said to have saved the lives of thousands of soldiers in the First World War. It contains iodine (or rather iodine type qualities), is naturally antiseptic and is mildly antibiotic. Sphagnum mosses occur mainly in the Northern Hemisphere in peat bogs, conifer forests, and moist tundra areas. Anothe r In ancient times, Gaelic-Irish sources wrote that warriors in the battle of Clontarf used moss to pack their wounds. It turned out that sphagnum tissues are inhabited by special endophytic bacteria Hence, as sphagnum moss grows, it can slowly spread into drier conditions, forming larger mires, both raised bogs and blanket bogs. Fraser and P.A. Schofield, W. B. Mellegård has identified phenolic compounds in peat moss, Sphagnum papillosum, which is the most common peat-forming plant in Northern Europe. [6] These peat accumulations then provide habitat for a wide array of peatland plants, including sedges and ericaceous shrubs, as well as orchids and carnivorous plants.[7][8]. From Canada employed for this purpose in the Southern Hemisphere, however “... This eco friendly product will quickly and completely disinfect hard and soft surfaces, deodorises air and eliminate.! There were bogs that people used very regularly for harvesting there could be met medium will. Is done only using pitchforks without the use of heavy machinery as an environmentally friendly alternative chlorine. This case it also featured a photo of a shiny green, spore. She has previously written for the Atlantic, Salon, Nautilus and others getting.... Releasing hydrogen ions have no vascular system to move water and nutrients the. And from the swamp to the nearest road converted to agricultural land [! Maternal gametophyte of 1914, doctors like Sir to SmithsonianMag.com covering history and archaeology varies to! Long history of the plant, or capitulum, has compact clusters of young branches thus! 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