Common Brophyte and Lichen Species of the Northwest Forest






Terminology | Pictorial

Sphagnum capillifolium
Acute-leaved Peat Moss
"Small Red Peat Moss"


Sphagnum capillifolium Description

General - small, reddish, with rounded, convex head (capitulum); stems without pores of fibrils; 1 young hanging branch.

Leaves - stem leaves relatively long, broadly egg-shaped, narrower above than below, blunt, with at least a few fibrils and pores (or poorly formed gaps) in upper part; branch leaves slender, toothed at tip; colourless cells have many large pores on both surfaces; green cells triangular, exposed on inner surface only.


Forms hummocks in wooded edges around bogs and poor fens, more rarely in open peatlands; widespread across boreal forest; circumpolar.


Also called S. nemoreum. Wide-tongued peat moss (S. russowii) is a similar species, but its outer stem cells have pores that are not found on the stems of acute-leaved peat moss. The Chipewyan used acute-leaved peat moss as a dish scrubber. It was also used to insulate cabins and to fill the cracks between logs. Smudges of dried peat moss were used to keep flies and mosquitoes away. When smoke-curing hides or meat, the Chipewyan often burned damp peat moss with alder wood. The Woods Cree did not use red peat mosses in diapers, because they irritated the skin, but acute-leaved peat moss was used when it lacked its red colour. The species name capillifolium, means 'hair-leafed', and refers to the relatively narrow leaves of this species.

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