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Thread: Sphagnum wild habitat

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    Sphagnum wild habitat

    I always think of Sphagnum as a light-loving plant that grows unshaded in big bogs where it's the dominant plant (dominant as in most numerous and dense, as well as being unshaded). However, today I found it in very deep shade, underneath very dense wetland bushes. Was I the only one who didn't realize there are at least some shade species? I was expecting to find them closer to the water, but there they would have been choked out by even denser purple loosestrife.

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    Quote Originally Posted by schmiggle View Post
    I always think of Sphagnum as a light-loving plant that grows unshaded in big bogs where it's the dominant plant (dominant as in most numerous and dense, as well as being unshaded). However, today I found it in very deep shade, underneath very dense wetland bushes. Was I the only one who didn't realize there are at least some shade species? I was expecting to find them closer to the water, but there they would have been choked out by even denser purple loosestrife.
    I was surprised to find what appeared to be sphagnum growing in a few areas on Mount Monadnock last year.

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    Sphagnum doesn't like blazing sun any more than it does deep shade; it'll grow there, but not necessarily very well. Their favored conditions are under the dappled shade of other sun-loving plants. It's not really a species-specific condition, but what the native species have available to them that's most tolerable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hcarlton View Post
    Sphagnum doesn't like blazing sun any more than it does deep shade; it'll grow there, but not necessarily very well. Their favored conditions are under the dappled shade of other sun-loving plants. It's not really a species-specific condition, but what the native species have available to them that's most tolerable.
    It definitely didn't like the deep shade, and it definitely doesn't mind dappled sun. However, I was in a huge bog a few weeks ago, and that was basically full sun (though the bushes aound might have offered limited sun protection). You always see it in pictures growing out in the open. However, Colorado probably has more UV, so I wonder if that's what's hurting it in full sun out there. The pictures are usually of the big northern bogs, and the bog I was in was bushy and in Rhode Island. The site I mentioned in this post is a forest edge, and the sphagnum definitely grows best in dappled light (although it doesn't grow at all in full sun, and I'm not really sure why, because I've seen it in full sun elsewhere--maybe the water's too deep?)
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    hcarlton's Avatar
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    I'm not referring to around here; I don't have a lot of sphagnum growing outdoors and I've never seen it in person around here in the wild. Where it does grow with little protection, I would bet you'll find it mostly very close to the ground or inundated with water to prevent drying out/burning. There are probably some species that can tolerate drier conditions in full sun, but for the most part even the spotty light provided by sparse grasses is more its preferable conditions.
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    Have you considered that the sphagnum was in shade because the bush had germinated in the unshaded sphagnum?

    On sphagnum rafts you will find that areas are in dappled shade because the birch scrub has begun to colonise the raft. Eventually other plants will also colonise the undergrowth and the only indication that it is a raft will be that the earth moves. This development can be relatively short. I still check on a sphagnum raft (SSSI) where I was involved in a scientific project in the 1970s that is now unrecognisable as the scrub and other vegetation has colonised and taken over.

    The sphagnum I grow prefers to be wet in full sun. Given those conditions it grows more compact and colourful. Grown in shade (the lower tiers in my sphagnum house) it's scraggy and just green. It will revert to type when granted full sun though.

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