Any of more than 160 species of plants that make up the bryophyte genus Sphagnum, which grow in dense clumps around ponds, in swamps and bogs, on moist, acid cliffs, and on lakeshores from tropical to subpolar regions. These pale-green to deep-red plants can hold 20 times their weight in water. As they die and are compressed, they form organic peat, which is harvested and dried as fuel, as seedbed cover, and as shipping packaging for plants and live aquatic animals. Gardeners stir peat into soil to increase soil moisture, porosity, and acidity and to reduce erosion.
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Organic fuel consisting of a light, spongy material formed in temperate, humid environments by the accumulation and partial decomposition of vegetable remains under conditions of poor drainage. Peat deposition is the first step in the formation of coal. Dried peat burns readily, with a smoky flame and a characteristic odour. It is used for domestic heating and can be used to fire boilers. It is only a minor contributor to the world energy supply, but large deposits occur in Canada, China, Indonesia, Russia, Scandinavia, and the U.S. Major users include Finland, Ireland, Russia, and Sweden.
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