Capsules of Sphagnum fimbriatum, showing ripening specimens as well as a number that have already had their caps thrown off explosively by a build-up of gases within the capsule. Photo from the British Bryological Society.

Belongs within: Bryophyta.

The Sphagnum mosses are, together with the Tasmanian Ambuchanania leucobryoides, the sister group to all other living mosses. They have thalloid protonemata, leafy shoots lacking rhizoids, and the capsules are not held above the gametophytes by a seta but by an extension of the gametophyte itself called the pseudopod. The capsules are globose and open explosively rather than through a peristome (Smith & Smith 2004). The known fossil record of Sphagnales extends back to the Late Permian, where they are represented by the genus Protosphagnum (Bateman et al. 1998). Modern species are all included in the genus Sphagnum, divided between several subgenera. Members of subgenera other than Cymbifolia have the stem leaves bordered (Dixon 1924).

Characters (from Smith & Smith 2004): Leaves unistratose. Antheridia globose, borne singly in axils of branch leaves. Antheridia in groups of one to five at apex of short lateral branch.

<==Sphagnales [Sphagneae]
    |--Protosphagnum BC98
    `--Sphagnum Linnaeus 1753 [Sphagnaceae] SK02
         |  i. s.: S. australe Mitt. 1859 SK02 (see below for synonymy)
         |         S. capillifolium WP05
         |         S. cristatum Hampe 1874 (see below for synonymy) SK02
         |         S. dominii Kavina 1916 SK02
         |         S. falcatulum Besch. 1885 SK02 (see below for synonymy)
         |         S. fallax FHH01
         |         S. fuscovinosum Seppelt & Crum 1999 SK02
         |         S. lescurii WM14
         |         S. meridense J87
         |         S. novo-zelandicum Mitt. 1859 SK02 (see below for synonymy)
         |           |--S. n. var. novo-zelandicum D24
         |           |--S. ‘intermedium’ var. parvifolium D24
         |           |--S. ‘intermedium’ var. pulchrum D24
         |           `--S. ‘molle’ var. tenerum D24
         |         S. perichaetiale Hampe 1847 [incl. S. beccarii Hampe 1872, S. vitjianum Schimp. ex Warnst. 1891] SK02
         |--S. subg. Acutifolia D24
         |    |--S. acutifolium D24
         |    |    |--S. a. var. acutifolium D24
         |    |    |--S. a. var. fuscum D24
         |    |    |--S. a. var. gracile [incl. S. warnstorfii] D24
         |    |    |--S. a. var. quinquefarium D24
         |    |    `--S. a. var. rubellum D24
         |    |--S. fimbriatum D24
         |    |--S. girgensohnii [incl. S. strictum] D24
         |    |    |--S. g. var. girgensohnii D24
         |    |    |--S. g. var. coryphaeum D24
         |    |    `--S. g. var. robustum D24 [=S. fimbriatum var. robustum D03; incl. S. russowii D24]
         |    `--S. subnitens FHH01 [=S. acutifolium var. subnitens D24]
         |--S. subg. Cuspidata D24
         |    |--S. cuspidatum Erhr. ex Hoffm. 1796 D24, SK02
         |    |    |--S. c. var. cuspidatum D03
         |    |    |--S. c. var. brevifolium [incl. S. balticum] D24
         |    |    |--S. c. var. falcatum D24
         |    |    |--S. c. var. microcarpum D03
         |    |    |--S. c. var. plumosum D24
         |    |    `--S. c. var. torreyanum D24
         |    |--S. lindbergii D24
         |    |--S. riparium [=S. intermedium var. riparium; incl. S. spectabile] D24
         |    `--S. tenellum [incl. S. tenellum var. longifolium, S. molluscum] D24
         |--S. subg. Cymbifolia D24
         |--S. subg. Squarrosa D24
         |    |--S. squarrosum D24
         |    |    |--S. s. var. squarrosum D24
         |    |    `--S. s. var. imbricatum D24
         |    `--S. teres [=S. squarrosum var. teres] D24
         |         |--S. t. var. teres D24
         |         `--S. t. var. squarrosulum (see below for synonymy) D24
         |--S. subg. Subsecunda D24
         |    |--S. laricinum D24
         |    |    |--S. l. var. laricinum D24
         |    |    |--S. l. var cyclophyllum D24
         |    |    |--S. l. var. platyphyllum D24
         |    |    `--S. l. var. teretiusculum D24
         |    `--S. subsecundum Nees 1819 D24, SK02 (see below for synonymy)
         |         |--S. s. var. subsecundum SK02
         |         |--S. s. var. obesum D24
         |         |--S. s. var. rufescens (Nees & Hornsch.) Huebener 1833 SK02
         |         |--S. s. var. turgidum D24
         |         `--S. s. var. viride (see below for synonymy) D24
         `--S. subg. Truncata D24
              |--S. compactum DC. 1805 D24, SK02 [=S. rigidum var. compactum SK02]
              `--S. rigidum [=S. compactum var. rigidum] D24
                   |--S. r. var. rigidum D24
                   `--S. r. var. squarrosum non S. squarrosum D24

Nomina nuda: Sphagnum bicolor Hampe ex Broth. & Watts 1912 SK02
             Sphagnum centrale var. flavoglaucescens f. brachyclada Warnst. ex Paris 1900 SK02
             Sphagnum centrale var. flavopallescens f. brachydasyclada Weymouth 1903 non S. medium var. fusco-rubellum f. brachydasyclada [=Sphagnum centrale var. fuscopallescens f. brachydasyclada Weymouth 1903] SK02
             Sphagnum cymbifolium var. carneopallidum Warnst. ex Watts 1899 SK02
             Sphagnum australe var. grandiosum Warnst. ex Weymouth 1903 SK02
             Sphagnum grandifolium var. brachycladium f. laxifolium Warnst. ex Watts 1912 non S. novo-zelandicum var. laxifolium [=S. grandifolium var. laxifolium Warnst. ex Watts 1912] SK02
             Sphagnum subsecundum var. macrophyllum Müll.Hal. ex Watts & Whitel. 1902 nec S. moorei var. macrophyllum nec S. wattsii var. macrophyllum SK02
             Sphagnum rigescens Warmst. in Dusén 1903 D03

Sphagnum australe Mitt. 1859 SK02 [=S. antarcticum var. australe (nom. illeg.) SK02; incl. S. antarcticum SK02, S. campbellianum (nom. inv.) SK02, S. papillosum var. confertum D24, SK02, S. antarcticum var. densissimum SK02, S. falcirameum (nom. inv.) SK02, S. antarcticum var. fluctuans SK02, S. antarcticum var. macrocephalum SK02, S. macrorigidum SK02, S. orthocladum (nom. inv.) SK02, S. antarcticum var. subsquarrosum SK02, S. weymouthii SK02]

Sphagnum cristatum Hampe 1874 [incl. S. decipiens var. obovatum f. anocladum, S. grandifolium var. brachycladum Warnst. 1911, S. cymbophyllum (nom. inv.), S. decipiens, S. grandifolium var. densum Warnst. 1911, S. grandifolium Warnst. 1900, S. leionotum, S. maximum, S. decipiens var. obovatum, S. pachycladum (n. n.), S. decipiens var. rotundatum, S. decipiens var. obovatum f. squarrulosum, S. subbicolor, S. wardellense, S. whiteleggei, S. wilcoxii] SK02

Sphagnum falcatulum Besch. 1885 SK02 [=S. cuspidatum var. falcatulum D03; incl. S. brotherusii SK02, S. drepanocladum SK02, S. lancifolium SK02, S. wattsii var. leptocladum SK02, S. wattsii var. macrophyllum non S. moorei var. macrophyllum SK02, S. naumannii SK02, S. brotherusii var. plumosulum SK02, S. rodwayi SK02, S. scortechinii SK02, S. serratifolium SK02, S. cuspidatum var. serrulatum D24, S. serratum var. serrulatum SK02, S. trichophyllum SK02, S. wattsii SK02]

Sphagnum novo-zelandicum Mitt. 1859 SK02 [incl. S. novo-zelandicum var. commutatum SK02, S. comosum SK02, S. cymbifolioides Müll.Hal. 1851 (preoc.) SK02, S. pseudorufescens var. fuscorufescens f. dicladum SK02, S. dubiosum SK02, S. pseudorufescens var. flavescens SK02, S. pseudorufescens var. fuscorufescens SK02, S. contortum var. intermedium SK02, S. laticoma SK02, S. novo-zelandicum var. laxifolium SK02, S. contortum var. laxum SK02, S. squarrosum var. laxum D24, S. teres var. laxum D24, S. moorei var. macrophyllum SK02, S. novo-zelandicum var. molle SK02, S. molliculum SK02, S. moorei SK02, S. mossmannianum (nom. inv.) SK02, S. molle var. muelleri D24, S. pseudorufescens var. pallens SK02, S. novo-zelandicum var. pauciporosum SK02, S. pseudorufescens SK02, S. novo-zelandicum var. pulvinatum SK02, S. recurvum D24, S. contortum var. scorpioides SK02, S. subsecundum var. subcontortum SK02, S. submolliculum SK02, S. sullivanii SK02, S. pseudorufescens var. virescens SK02]

Sphagnum subsecundum Nees 1819 D24, SK02 [incl. S. subsecundum var. contortum D24, SK02, S. subsecundum var. simplicissimum D24]

Sphagnum subsecundum var. viride [incl. S. subsecundum var. auriculatum, S. subsecundum var. squarrosulum non S. cymbifolium var. squarrosulum] D24

Sphagnum teres var. squarrosulum nec S. cymbifolium var. squarrosulum nec S. subsecundum var. squarrosulum [=S. squarrosum var. squarrosulum] D24

*Type species of generic name indicated


[BC98] Bateman, R. M., P. R. Crane, W. A. DiMichele, P. R. Kenrick, N. P. Rowe, T. Speck & W. E. Stein. 1998. Early evolution of land plants: phylogeny, physiology, and ecology of the primary terrestrial radiation. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 29: 263–292.

[D24] Dixon, H. N. 1924. The Student's Handbook of British Mosses 3rd ed. V. V. Sumfield: Eastbourne.

[D03] Dusén, P. 1903. Patagonian and Fuegian mosses. In: Scott, W. B. (ed.) Reports of the Princeton University Expeditions to Patagonia, 1896–1899 vol. 8. Botany pp. 63–126. The University: Princeton (New Jersey).

[FHH01] Frey, W., M. Hofmann & H. H. Hilger. 2001. The gametophyte-sporophyte junction: unequivocal hints for two evolutionary lines of archegoniate land plants. Flora 196: 431–445.

[J87] Judd, W. S. 1987. Floristic study of Morne La Visite and Pic Macaya National Parks, Haiti. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum—Biological Sciences 32 (1): 1–136.

Smith, A. J. E., & R. Smith. 2004. The Moss Flora of Britain and Ireland, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press.

[SK02] Streimann, H., & N. Klazenga. 2002. Catalogue of Australian Mosses. Flora of Australia Supplementary Series 17. Australian Biological Resources Study: Canberra.

[WM14] Wickett, N. H., S. Mirarab, N. Nguyen, T. Warnow, E. Carpenter, N. Matasci, S. Ayyampalayam, M. S. Barker, J. G. Burleigh, M. A. Gitzendanner, B. R. Ruhfel, E. Wafula, J. P. Der, S. W. Graham, S. Mathews, M. Melkonian, D. E. Soltis, P. S. Soltis, N. W. Miles, C. J. Rothfels, L. Pokorny, A. J. Shaw, L. DeGeronimo, D. W. Stevenson, B. Surek, J. C. Villarreal, B. Roure, H. Philippe, C. W. dePamphilis, T. Chen, M. K. Deyholos, R. S. Baucom, T. M. Kutchan, M. M. Augustin, J. Wang, Y. Zhang, Z. Tian, Z. Yan, X. Wu, X. Sun, G. K.-S. Wong & J. Leebens-Mack. 2014. Phylotranscriptomic analysis of the origin and early diversification of land plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 111 (45): E4859–E4868.

[WP05] Wikström, N., & K. M. Pryer. 2005. Incongruence between primary sequence data and the distribution of a mitochondrial atp1 group II intron among ferns and horsetails. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 36: 484–493.

Last updated: 24 January 2018.

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