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Accumulations of Sphagnum can store water, since both living and dead plants can hold large quantities of water inside their cells; plants may hold 16–26 times as much water as their dry weight, depending on the species.
In the Southern Hemisphere, however, peat landscapes may contain many moss species other than Sphagnum.
Unlike other mosses, the long-lived gametophytes do not rely upon rhizoids to assist in water uptake.
Swimming sperm fertilize eggs contained in archegonia that remain attached to the female gametophyte.
Dried sphagnum moss is also used in northern Arctic regions as an insulating material.
Anaerobic acidic sphagnum bogs have low rates of decay, and hence preserve plant fragments and pollen to allow reconstruction of past environments.