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Classification
 
 
What's This?
 
This is a photosynthetic organism that produces embryos, and belongs to one of the 265,000 known species of land plants. It is lacking a true vascular system, and its dominant gametophyte generation is alternating with a dependent sporophyte generation, so it's a bryophyte. Because its lobeless leaf-like structures are attached to the branches in spiral patterns, it's a moss. Its stem has no rhizoids, and bears spreading as well as pendent branches; a multitude of young branches form a head at the top. Therefore, it's a peat moss. It has three spreading branches per fascicle, each bearing five rows of branch leaves, its terminal stem bud is unobtrusive, and it shows red blotches: it's Sphagnum quinquefarium!
 
  Sphagnum
S. quinquefarium
 
And here is its warrant:
  Taxonomy
 
 
    Distinction of Peat Mosses From Other Mosses
 
Sphagnum
S. fuscum
 
  As opposed to granite mosses (Andreaeidae) and Bryidae, peat mosses show combinations of the following characteristics:
 
Protonemata, the juvenile stages of their gametophytes, are of low structure (thallose).

Stems are lacking root-like structures (rhizoids).

Some of their gametophytes branches are spreading, some are pendent.

The elongated part of their sporophytes (seta) is only rudimentary, its function as a stalk is taken over by a gametophyte-derived pseudopodium.

Their spores stem from the outer tissue (amphithecium) of the young sporogone.

The central, sterile tissue in the sporogenous region of their capsules (columella) has the shape of a hemisphere.

Their mature sporogons open by dehiscent, round lids (stegocarpously).

Their sporophyte capsules are lacking an archegonium-derived protective membrane (calyptra) as well as a serrated circular structure around their openings (peristome).

 
 
Classification Criteria of Sphagnum Species
 
Classification of sphagna takes experience, and is sometimes impossible without the aid of a microscope. The following criteria are applied to distinguish between species:
 
Number of branches per fascicle

Number of pendent and spreading branches, and their degree of differentiation

Shape of branch leaves (squarrose, hooded, etc.)

Direction of stem leaves (upward, downward or horizontal)

Shape of the head

Size and prominence of the terminal bud

Secondary pigments

Shape and location of chlorocytes

Spiral fortification of hyalocytes

Number, size, and fortification of pores

Structure of hyalocyte cell walls (papillose or other ornamentations)

 
  Sphagnum
S. teres,
with squarrose leaves

 
 
  List of Sphagnum species in Austria
 
 
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