sphagnum (sfăgˈnəm) [key] or peat moss, any species of the large and widely distributed genus Sphagnum, economically the most valuable moss. Sphagnums, the principal constituent of peat, typically grow as a floating mat on freshwater bogs. Their leaflike appendages have many large cells with circular openings that enable them to absorb liquids readily; hence they are commercially important as a soil structure enhancer (or component of potting soils), packing material, and absorbent dressings and for other uses. Sphagnum is classified in the division Bryophyta, class Bryopsida.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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