Sphagnum divinum

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Identification notes

In 2020, Sphagnum magellanicum was split into two species in Britain and Ireland: S. divinum and S. medium. Mark Hill’s article in Field Bryology, which you can download via a link on this page, deals nicely with the main differences. However, as is sometimes the case when species are split, there may be overlap in characters and it may not always be possible to confidently identify all specimens.

In the field, candidate S. divinum may be provisionally identified by its relatively smooth spreading branches, which taper to a point. To confirm the identification, you’ll need to examine the size of the pores at the extreme base of the branch leaves under a compound microscope. Great care should be taken to pull (or scrape) off leaves so that the basal part comes away intact (ideally with a bit of stem to confirm it) – it’s all too easy to tear the leaves off above their base.

The 2010 Field Guide only includes Sphagnum magellanicum agg.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

The distribution of S. divinum is incompletely understood. S. divinum is less widespread than S. medium and is absent or very rare in many lowland parts of Britain. S. divinum is also more tolerant of peat habitats with a history of disturbance and is locally common in parts of Scotland and Ireland, especially where bogs have been cut over.

The 2014 Atlas only includes Sphagnum magellanicum agg.

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

Resources you may find useful

Hill, M.O. 2020. Sphagnum divinum and Sphagnum medium in Britain and Ireland. Field Bryology 123: May 2020

Mark Hill’s excellent article in Field Bryology deals comprehensively with the differences between S. medium and S. divinum in Britain and Ireland.

Download article

Similar Species

S. divinum most resembles S. medium but other large common Section Sphagnum species may also look a little reddish at times.