The Bog: Mosses and Lichens   Leave a comment


  The Bog : Mosses and Lichens



The Mosses (Bryophyta)


Sphagnum spp.





Sphagnum species are usually the most abundant group on acidic bogs. The plants form thick, spongy mats. Sphagnum is alive on the outer surface and dead at the basal portion. The dead, brown part of the plant is illustrated above. The non-living plant material accumulates over time and may extend several feet below the surface often forming peat. Tannins and other acidic compounds are released from the dead tissue, inhibiting bacterial decomposition. Water is absorbed and stored in large empty cells providing moisture for the moss and other plants that colonize the bog. Sphagnum mosses can absorb water up to 20 times their dry weight. The green photosynthetic moss cells take up positively charged ions such as calcium and magnesium and in the process release hydrogen ions into the environment making it more acidic. This inhibits the growth of bacteria that decompose plant material thus preventing release of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Because of this the bog tends to be a nutrient poor environment. The dead moss accumulates over time eventually forming peat. Peat moss is used in some areas to heat homes. The North American Indians sometimes used peat as stuffing for mattresses and pillows and as diapers for babies. Sphagnum moss was also used as an anti microbial dressing for wounds.



Cladoniaceae (Kingdom Fungi)


Cladonia rangiferina (Reindeer Lichen)





This slow growing species is used by some Scandinavians to make a distilled alcoholic drink called Aquavit. Reindeer Lichen is boiled and eaten by certain native Alaskan Indians and juice from boiled lichens has been used to treat diarrhea.


Posted February 7, 2011 by zottoli

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