Sphagnum pulchrum

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Identification notes

A showy and scarce species of deep, wet peat; robust, dark-stemmed orange plants are normally straightforward to identify. However, beware confusion with S. fallax forma isoviitae, typically a more slender plant but one that can also be richly pigmented and have dark stems. The basal parts of the branch axes of both species may also be pink-tinged.

Counting fascicle branches can help to eliminate doubt. S. pulchrum always has 4: 2 spreading and 2 pendent. S. fallax forma isoviitae has 4-5 and they are strongly dimorphic, with the pendent branches whitish, slender and appressed to the stem. Also, the branch leaves of S. pulchrum are less than 2.5 times as long as wide whereas S. fallax has leaves more than 2.7 times as long as wide.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

Resources you may find useful

There are several publications and keys dedicated to the Sphagna of Britain and Europe. The most recent of these are listed on the Bryophyte identification page under Resources.

Bryophyte identification resources

Similar Species

Slender, or greenish forms of S. pulchrum have potential to be confused with S. fallax forma isoviitae and plants growing in atypical habitat should be double-checked for this species. The rare S. lindbergii may be a similar colour but grows in montane flushes rather than on deep wet peat in valley mires and raised bogs.