Splitting bog-mosses

Blawhorn Moss NNR and Flanders Moss NNR


What better way to start the New Year than with a bit of proper science. A key bog-moss or Sphagnum moss on Flanders Moss is Sphagnum magellanicum or Magellanic bog-moss – so called because its range stretches right across the globe from Siberia to North America and down to Tierro del Fuego in southern Chile and Argentina. Or so it was up until now.
Because scientists from the NTNU University Museum in Trondheim, Norway have been looking at examples of this moss across its world-wide range and have come to the conclusion that it is actually made up of a number of closely related species rather than just one. The North American version of this species still need further work to divide and describe them but for the other species that result from this split are:
Sphagnum magellanicum – is now only found in Tierro del Fuego.
Sphagnum divinum – which has a circum-polar distribution and is found in Northern Europe, Asia and North America genrally on mire margins and mire forests. This name was apparently decided on by the Norwegian moss group at an outdoor restaurant in the Alps in scorching sunshine last summer, at the end of a long day in the field with a cold beer in hand and ‘google translate latin’ entered on their mobile – divinium is latin for divine. Who says moss scientists can’t live it up.
Sphagnum medium – has a western Europe and eastern American distribution and is the species confirmed as the species found in the UK. So the great big, chunky, wine-red moss that can be seen from the boardwalk at both Flanders and Blawhorn and is important as it is one of the best peat forming mosses that is busy helping with the recovery of the moss.
However with the new information on what divides the species it could be that both S. medium and S. divinum are present on Flanders just as when the taxonomists split the Rusty bog-moss into 2 species they found that Flanders was one of the few sites in the UK that had both species see here

In Norway the new species S. divinum doesn’t yet have a common Norwegian name so they are inviting suggestions from the public. This hasn’t been done yet for its English common name but when it does I fully expect to be looking for Mossy McMossface out on Flanders in the near future.



The ideal bog surface – sphagnum covering everything


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1 Response to Splitting bog-mosses

  1. Susan says:

    Lovely blog, thank-you.

    Liked by 1 person

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