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Thread: Looking at Sphagnum Wrong?

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    Formerly known as Pineapple Nepenthesis's Avatar
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    Looking at Sphagnum Wrong?

    I recently went to a lake/reservoir/dam. Obviously tons of minerals in it. Tons of streams feed into it and the water is muddy in some areas even. There are lily pads growing all along the edges, lots of grasses on the banks at one part. However, there were no CPs at all. I went all the way around the lake which took over two hours to hike, probably more than 2 miles with all the switchbacks. There's lots of wildlife in the area too. You can kinda get a very slight idea of the place in this video I made...



    Literally every area where water met land was covered in Sphagnum moss. Some places more than others, but most of the banks were thick with Sphagnum. I identified at least three similar but obviously different species (growing conditions were taken into account, I'm certain the three species I looked at were different) and there were probably more as well.

    Maybe I just assumed this incorrectly, but isn't Sphagnum supposed to be a low-mineral moss? Another thing I noticed is that the soil it is growing in is very grainy/sandy dirt. It is light mocha color to describe it the best, mainly because of the sand it was growing in. The sand in it was very fine so there were no apparent grains, but it felt very sandy and sunk in water.

    I know some species get mineral burn easily, but some that I own get that more than others and some never even have. Is it just the bog species that need a low mineral count in water? Can mountain species and species accustomed to other growing conditions (like in the video) take more minerals? I didn't see a single strand with blackened/browned/hardened tips -- it was all fluffy and green.

    Anyone have thoughts on this?

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    The Most Uncreative Name in the History of Ever Plant Planter's Avatar
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    I don't know much about the stuff, but the term "Sphagnum" can describe an array of mosses, since it's a genus, not a species. Perhaps it's due to the fact that it isn't the type that's in bogs. I found some Sphagnum in a park in soil that clearly was filthy rich. (Get it?) The dirt was a dark, chocolatey brown, not that I'd want to eat it.

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    Formerly known as Pineapple Nepenthesis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plant Planter View Post
    I don't know much about the stuff, but the term "Sphagnum" can describe an array of mosses, since it's a genus, not a species.
    Yes, that is understood. That's why I'm asking if mountain species/lake species/ect can grow in higher mineral content that say bog species. Sorry if that was unclear.

    I capitalized Sphagnum because it is the genus name.

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    Sphagnum Guru Wire Man's Avatar
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    Was this on the west coast?

    What you saw I can guarantee is mostly S. palustre. It's prolific in spreading. There's a possibility there's also
    -angustifolium
    -centrale
    -fallax
    -fimbriatum
    -girgensohnii
    -henryense
    -and a lot more.

    Take a look here;
    http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/g...genus=Sphagnum

    As for the water, it looks pretty clean. It's just really acidic. The water at Shaken Creek was even darker than that.

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    Formerly known as Pineapple Nepenthesis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wire Man View Post
    Was this on the west coast?

    What you saw I can guarantee is mostly S. palustre. It's prolific in spreading. There's a possibility there's also
    -angustifolium
    -centrale
    -fallax
    -fimbriatum
    -girgensohnii
    -henryense
    -and a lot more.

    Take a look here;
    http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/g...genus=Sphagnum

    As for the water, it looks pretty clean. It's just really acidic. The water at Shaken Creek was even darker than that.
    This was from vacation on the east coast. I sure wish it were on the west coast though... I'd be there every week to look around, it's fun getting down there and looking through it... thoughmost of the time I only found cigarette butts and leaves.

    Thanks for the website though! If I ever find any out in California I'll use that. Bookmarked.

    There were some areas (not in the video -- well actually if you look at the part where I'm walking over that floating bridge right at the beginning of the video (0:07) it is quite muddy. There was Sphagnum growing in those kinds of areas as well, but not as much because those are where the streams dump into the lake. One of the species I found there was growing on the other side of the path from the river and it was in sandy soil. It had to be packed with nutrients because there were lots of plants growing in and around it.

    Next time I go back (maybe in the winter) I'll bring a TDS meter and soil testing stuff. This definitely was no nutrient-poor bog, though. It really stood out to me because this reservoir is right on top of a tall mountain... so it would probably have more minerals in it than a bog on flat land. So that's why I thought to post this question -- I was under the impression all Sphagnum required close to no minerals or it would burn.

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    Christian James Ambanja's Avatar
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    Sphagnum will take over lakes, bogs, and nutrient rich environments, but I think you are forgetting the extreme timetable for this kind of growth. It starts from spores reaching an ideal environment and over time it slowly spreads outward making its mat (and with it it's own micro environment), some spots may be hundreds and others thousands of years old.

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    The Most Uncreative Name in the History of Ever Plant Planter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ambanja View Post
    ...some spots may be hundreds and others thousands of years old.
    What's this junk about thousand-year-old trees and thousand-year-old eggs? Think thousand-year-old MOSS!

    ...Moss must be the ultimate perennial, huh?

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    richjam1986's Avatar
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    I see people making a couple assumptions here that probably shouldn't be made: How do you know that the lake was high in dissolved mineral, or that it is high in nutrients (as well as the sphagnum seen in the park)? Soil color and "muddiness" doesn't indicate dissolved mineral content or nutritional richness of the soil. So yes, it would be good to bring some water and soil tests.

    Of course, Sphagnum needs nutrients too, and will often benefit from light application of fertilizer in cultivation; so why wouldn't it be able to live in slightly more fertile soils in the wild?

    Last thought: Conditions in cultivation and in the wild are VERY different. If you consistently add slightly too many nutrients and minerals to a plant in cultivation, they can build up relatively quickly until they are too much for the plant to handle. In the wild, even in more mineral or nutrient rich areas, you have water circulation happening on a scale that is very difficult to imitate in cultivation, and rain is frequently flushing the soil of excess nutrients and minerals. Direct comparison between cultivation and the wild often doesn't work, because it is very difficult to recreate conditions found in the wild.
    Da' mishu
    Provo, Utah.

    My Growlist: http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...29#post1089429

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