Common Brophyte and Lichen Species of the Northwest Forest






Terminology | Pictorial

Sphagnum warnstorfii
Warnstorf's Peat Moss

Sphagnum warnstorfii Description

General - slender, small to medium-sized; purplish red growing in sun, greenish in shade; branches in clusters of 3 - 5 with 2 spreading away from the rest.

Leaves - stem leaves triangular to oblong tongue-shaped, tip blunt to broadly pointed, smooth-edged or weakly toothed; branch leaves in 5 distinct rows, spreading, egg- lance-shaped, tip narrow, curled inwards, toothed; upper half of young leaves have very small round, strongly ringed pores, contrast with much larger pores in lower half of leaves.

Sporophytes - single; stalk short; capsule brownish, spherical, erect, smooth.


Mineral-rich habitats across Northwestern Ontario's boreal region; often found with golden fuzzy fen moss, forming small hummocks or lawns in rich fens; often occurs below rusty peat moss on hummocks in treed fens; occasionally in white cedar swamps at southeastern edge of our region; circumpolar.


Warnstorf's peat moss is the most common peat moss in Alberta, but it is less common farther north. Peat mosses are the only mosses with considerable economic value. They are widely used as stable litter because of their ability to absorb and deodorize liquid manure, to reduce losses in available nitrogen, and to check insect pests. Peat moss has been used to produce many items, including ethyl and methyl alcohols, acetic and carbonic acids, ammonium compounds, nitrates, sugar, dyes, tanning materials, paper, woven fabrics, artificial wood, paraffin, naphtha, pitch, millboard, porous bricks, life preservers, gunpowder, fireworks, paint, paper, insulation, fabrics and charcoal.

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