sphagnum

noun

sphag·​num ˈsfag-nəm How to pronounce sphagnum (audio)
1
: any of an order (Sphagnales, containing a single genus Sphagnum) of atypical mosses that grow only in wet acid areas where their remains become compacted with other plant debris to form peat
2
: a mass of sphagnum plants

Illustration of sphagnum

Illustration of sphagnum
  • sphagnum 1

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Soak dried sphagnum or sheet moss in water for a few seconds and squeeze out any excess liquid. Jennifer Nalewicki, Popular Mechanics, 16 Nov. 2020 The sphagnum bogs found in southern Michigan are also a favorite for mosquitoes that spread EEE. NBC News, 18 Sep. 2019 Nolan's solution included lining the bottom of the bed with 6 inches of water-absorbent sphagnum moss and a layer of hardware cloth. Kendra Parks, NOLA.com, 26 Apr. 2018 Mines can use sphagnum to filter out toxins from pits where by-products are collected. The Economist, 5 Apr. 2018 Botany cannot go farther than tell me the names of the shrubs which grow there,—the high-blueberry, panicled andromeda, lambkill, azalea, and rhodora,—all standing in the quaking sphagnum. Henry David Thoreau, The Atlantic, 6 Oct. 2017 Bogs are generally more open, characterized by an abundance of sphagnum, a superabsorbent moss, and the accretion of peat. Henry Wismayer, New York Times, 16 Nov. 2016 Also known as sphagnum, peat moss thrives in cold, damp climates like those of the British Isles and northern Germany. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, 28 Apr. 2017 And as botanist P.G. Ayres writes, sphagnum was just as popular on the other side of the battle lines. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, 28 Apr. 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sphagnum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

New Latin, from Latin sphagnos, a moss, from Greek

First Known Use

1741, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sphagnum was in 1741

Dictionary Entries Near sphagnum

Cite this Entry

“Sphagnum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sphagnum. Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

sphagnum

noun

sphag·​num ˈsfag-nəm How to pronounce sphagnum (audio)
1
: any of a large genus of mosses that usually grow in wet areas (as bogs) and become compacted with other plant matter to form peat
2
: a mass of sphagnum plants

Medical Definition

sphagnum

noun

sphag·​num ˈsfag-nəm How to pronounce sphagnum (audio)
1
: any of an order (Sphagnales, containing a single genus Sphagnum) of atypical mosses that grow only in wet acid areas where their remains become compacted with other plant debris to form peat
2
: a mass of dehydrated sphagnum plants used as a surgical dressing especially during World War I
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