“And they’re supposed to be dead. Approved in July last year under the CAMPA scheme by … Once valued for its antiseptic qualities, sphagnum moss is now finding a new use as the world’s best potting medium for expensive hothouse orchids. Keddy (eds.). Because of the acidity of peat, however, bones are dissolved rather than preserved. [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. “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. “Moss drives” were announced in local papers, and volunteers included women of all ages and children. This eco friendly product will quickly and completely disinfect hard and soft surfaces, deodorises air and eliminate odours. Sphagnum Moss Is a Source of Drinking Water Sphagnum moss, and many other mosses for that matter, are extremely spongy and hold lots of water. [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]. Peat moss is used to dispose of the clarified liquid output (effluent) from septic tanks in areas that lack the proper conditions for ordinary disposal means. Two of the moss species found here i.e. Website: http://www.lboissoneault.com/, Continue Thus tissues are thin and usually one cell thick to allow these to diffuse easily. Terms of Use India’s first moss garden has been developed at Khurpatal in Nainital district, officials said on Saturday. [28] The moss inhibits the growth of microbes and reduces the need for chlorine in swimming pools. 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. Sphagnum taxonomy has been very contentious since the early 1900s; most species require microscopic dissection to be identified. However, “I can imagine if there were bogs that people used very regularly for harvesting there could be a trampling effect.”. It is also used as an environmentally friendly alternative to chlorine in swimming pool sanitation. Sphagnum Peat moss can also acidify its surroundings by taking up cations, such as calcium and magnesium, and releasing hydrogen ions. “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. “Germany was more active than any of the Allies in utilizing Sphagnum … the bogs of north-eastern Germany and Bavaria provided seemingly inexhaustible supplies. In this case it also helps to allow air flow through the medium which will aid in root growth as well. “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. "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. The World's Largest Wetlands: Ecology and Conservation. And from the Allies’ perspective, they were a renewable resource that would grow back without much difficulty. Besides their role in global climate change, peatlands are rich ecosystems in their own right, boasting rare species like carnivorous plants. The plant’s cell walls are composed of special sugar molecules that “create an electrochemical … For bogs, the acidity has remarkable preservative effects—think bog bodies—and keeps the environment limited to highly specialized species that can tolerate such harsh environments. [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. Anothe r 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). “The criticism was that you were getting redistribution of the moss during shipment and use.”, But everyone agreed on one thing: moss bandages worked. Approved in July last year under the CAMPA scheme by … Wellington, N.Z. It continued to be used sporadically when battles erupted, including during the Napoleonic and Franco-Prussian wars. Bogosphere: The Strangest Things Pulled Out of Peat Bogs. India's first moss garden has been developed at Khurpatal in Nainital district, officials said on Saturday. And by December 1915, a British report warned that the thousands of wounded men were threatening to exhaust the material for bandages. Sphagnum is a genus of approximately 380 accepted species of mosses, commonly known as " peat moss " though they are different as peat moss has a more acidic pH level. The leaves consist of two kinds of cells: small, green, living cells (chlorophyllose cells), and large, clear, structural, dead cells (hyaline cells). Throughout history its uses have ranged from medicinal to clothing to food. Peat moss refers to the product gardeners purchase in bales or large bags for use as a soil amendment. Sphagnum Moss can hold up to 26 times its own body weight in water/blood. Sphagnum Moss can hold about 20 times its own weight. Ayres writes, sphagnum was just as popular on the other side of the battle lines. 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]. New Zealand has, like other parts of the world, lost large areas of peatland. Or, as they wrote: “Fas est et ab hoste doceri”—it is right to be taught even by the enemy. There are normal photosynthesising cells with chlorophyll. 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. crushed, was a strong antibiotic compound, and ground green sphagnum moss (Sp. Biology of Peatlands. Macmillan Publ. Sphagnum moss is known to absorb moisture a lot quicker than cotton, in addition to being an effective antiseptic. Some wetlands scientists assert that "a managed bog bears little resemblance to a natural one. 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[4][27] Since it is absorptive and extremely acidic, it inhibits growth of bacteria and fungi, so it is used for shipping seeds and live plants. • It is the only genus of the family Sphagnaceae. During transportation, helicopters are commonly employed to transfer the newly harvested moss from the swamp to the nearest road. By 1918, 1 million dressings per month were being sent out of Britain to hospitals on continental Europe, in Egypt and even Mesopotamia. Moss magic - Sphagnum preservation The humble Sphagnum plant which makes up the bogs in which bog bodies are found has several properties that explain its ability to create an environment in which much gets preserved in an almost pristine state, including its ability to produce acid and sphagnan, which neutralise nutrition’s and halt bacterial growth. But the First World War was when this use became widespread on an industrial scale. However, these phenolic compounds only … Keep up-to-date on: © 2020 Smithsonian Magazine. Schofield, W. B. The main body consists of a stem and branches, with leaves also protruding from both the stem and the branches. 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. "Ask Natural Life: Does Peat Moss Have a Place In the Ecological Garden", Cellulose Based Soil Medium as a Peat Moss Substitute. These areas provide habitat for common and rare species. “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. As the spherical spore capsule dries, the operculum is forced off, followed by a cloud of spores. Sphagnum is a genus of approximately 380 accepted species[2][3] of mosses, commonly known as "peat moss" though they are different as peat moss has a more acidic pH level. Sphagnum moss (Sphagnum species) has been used for thousands of years. This eco friendly product will quickly and completely disinfect hard and soft surfaces, deodorises air and eliminate odours. [44] In some cases, better care is taken during the harvesting of Sphagnum to ensure enough moss is remaining to allow regrowth. Moss Garden, Khurpatal houses around 30 different species of moss and certain other bryophyte species. [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. Field surgeons seemed to agree. [21][22] Spores are extremely important in establishment of new populations in disturbed habitats and on islands. Sphagnum, or ‘bog moss’, were used during World War I (1914-1918). The latest estimates for wetland loss in New Zealand are 90% over 150 years. 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 the Southern Hemisphere, however, peat landscapes may contain many moss species other than Sphagnum. The top of the plant, or capitulum, has compact clusters of young branches. An 8-year cycle is suggested, but some sites require a longer cycle of 11 to 32 years for full recovery of biomass, depending on factors including whether reseeding is done, the light intensity, and the water table. or Under the right conditions, peat can accumulate to a depth of many meters. Sphagnum research programme: the ecological effects of commercial harvesting Department of Conservation R. P. Buxton, P. N. Johnson and P. R. Espie. 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. So why aren’t we still using moss bandages today? [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]. She is also the author of The Last Voyageurs: Retracing La Salle's Journey Across America. Along the stem are scattered leaves of various shapes, named stem leaves; the shape varies according to species. Sphagnum Moss Disinfectant is a gentle yet powerful naturally derived disinfectant and hard surface cleaner boosted with a synergistic blend of antimicrobial plant extracts. There are over 30 species of Sphagnum moss in Scotland, ranging in colour from red and pink, to orange and green. [38] In a given area (polygon) at least 30% of Sphagnum coverage has to be left unharvested. Dried Sphagnum can absorb up to twenty times its own volume of liquids, such as blood, pus, or antiseptic solution, and promotes antisepsis. This is often necessary when dealing with very sandy soil, or plants that need increased or steady moisture content to flourish. Desperate to get their hands on something sterile that would keep wounds clear of infection, doctors started getting creative. Swimming sperm fertilize eggs contained in archegonia that remain attached to the female gametophyte. [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. The acceleration of the spores is about 36,000G. They didn’t mildew. [23], Decayed, dried sphagnum moss has the name of peat or peat moss. She has previously written for The Atlantic, Salon, Nautilus and others. Its use is said to have saved the lives of thousands of soldiers in the First World War. Yes, moss, the plant. Accumulations of Sphagnum can store water, since both living and dead plants can hold large quantities of water inside their cells; plants may hold 16 to 26 times as much water as their dry weight, depending on the species. [8] They even preserve human bodies for millennia; examples of these preserved specimens are Tollund Man, Haraldskær Woman, Clonycavan Man and Lindow Man. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. As the war raged on, the number of bandages needed skyrocketed, and sphagnum moss provided the raw material for more and more of them. 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. Lorraine Boissoneault is a contributing writer to SmithsonianMag.com covering history and archaeology. Together with an Edinburgh surgeon, Charles Cathcart, he had discovered in 1914 something well known to German doctors; dried Sphagnum (bog moss) makes highly absorptive, antiseptic wound dressings. It also featured a photo of a non-Spaghnum moss species. This diversity is in most part due to its special pr operties; of being able to absorb up to twenty times its dry weight in water (Fleet 1986). For wounded humans, the result is that sphagnum bandages produce sterile environments by keeping the pH level around the wound low, and inhibiting the growth of bacteria. Moss helps pools stay clean. The Sphagnum moss absorbs liquids about three times more quickly than cotton, is cooler, softer, and less irritating than cotton and has antiseptic properties. The 1880's tests of antiseptic properties of peat and peat moss failed, the sterilization methods overrode the physiological effects of Sphagnum dressings. In the war's early days, eminent botanist Isaac Bayley Balfour and military surgeon Charles Walker Cathcart identified two species in particular that worked best for staunching bleeding and helping wounds heal: S. papillosum and S. palustre, both of which grew in abundance across Scotland, Ireland and England. Lieutenant-Colonel E.P. Sphagnum moss is also used for air-layering. Communities around the United Kingdom and North America organized outings to collect moss so the demand for bandages could be met. Can keep the habitat watery by releasing water to keep bogs waterlogged last months of 1914, started. 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