Journal archives for March 2022

March 07, 2022

Common Sphagnum peatmosses of south Mississippi

I got a request for resources to identify Sphagnum peatmosses in the field. What could be easier? Practically anything, turns out, because all the key identification characters for Sphagnum are microscopic. iNaturalist, unfortunately, is no help as its Computer Vision has not yet trained on Sphagnum, and it has a tendency to suggest everything is Crome Sphagnum and Prairie Peatmoss when they emphatically are not.

But, we aim to please, so here is a bare-bones draft resource to get started. I took 10 of the most common Sphagnum species in south Mississippi (should work nearby as well), divided them into groups based on how branch leaves look (with a hand lens), and provided links to more information and a photo for each. The photos, at, also have the species description from Flora of North America -- I suggest you skip to the last paragraph for hints to identify each species in the field.

Here are the suggestions, and I'll revise over time to improve it. Good luck!

Branch leaves are hood-shaped and big enough to be individually counted rather easily (subgenus Sphagnum):

Sphagnum perichaetiale (no common name), dryer microhabitats, teddy bear look

Sphagnum affine (imbricate bog-moss), dryish to wet but not inundated, often open

Sphagnum portoricense (Puerto Rico sphagnum), wet, shady, “little palm trees”

Sphagnum magellanicum (Magellan’s peatmoss), pitcherplant bogs, often purple

Sphagnum palustre (prairie peatmoss), shady wet seeps

Branch leaves are very long (over 5mm) and straight-tipped

Sphagnum macrophyllum (largeleaf peatmoss), wet and often inundated

Branch leaves small and not easily counted

Sphagnum lescurii (yellow peatmoss), wet to dry habitats, soft and shapeless

Sphagnum carolinianum (Carolina peatmoss), wet woods, bright green & a little spiky looking

Sphagnum cuspidatum (toothed peatmoss), inundated, “drowned kitten” look

Sphagnum recurvum (recurved sphagnum), wet, dainty looking

You can find lots of examples of each of these in my project "Peatmosses (Sphagnum) of the SE US" (

Posted on March 07, 2022 05:19 PM by janetwright janetwright | 7 comments | Leave a comment

Common Peatmosses (Sphagnum) of South Mississippi

Here's a very preliminary draft guide to the most common Sphagnum species in south Mississippi and nearby:

Posted on March 07, 2022 05:58 PM by janetwright janetwright | 0 comments | Leave a comment