What Is Sphagnum Moss Used For?

Dried, decayed sphagnum moss, or peat moss as it is known, is used in horticulture, primarily as a mulch or seedbed, according to Dictionary.com. Sphagnum moss increases soil's water and nutrient capacity by increasing capillary forces and cation exchange capacity, and it may also be used to provide plants with consistent moisture, especially in sandy soil.

Dried sphagnum moss is also used as an insulating material in regions in the northern Arctic. According to Dictionary.com, it was once used by traditional peoples for diapers and bandages, due to its absorption properties. It is also essential for growing mushrooms and is a very important soil topper for most carnivorous plants.

The majority of peat moss is harvested from bogs in Canada, although Europe does contribute as well. Sphagnum moss grows very slowly, so there is concern about its lack of sustainability.

Sphagnum moss leaves have small living cells containing chloroplasts, which surround larger dead cells. The dead cell walls are capable of absorbing up to 20 times their dry weight in water. The walls also have antiseptic properties and are resistant to decay. Anaerobic acidic sphagnum bogs have preserved many ancient artifacts, foods and even people due to their extremely low decay rate.