Sphagnum is the only genus in the family Sphagnaceae. Sphagnum occurs throughout the world with the northern hemisphere regions, e.g. Canada, North America being the centres of dominance. It extends from the tropics and north and south temperate zones to subarctic and antarctic regions. The plant forms clusters of short branches (heads or coma) above, and below the heads, elongated spaced out tufts (fascicles) of branches are formed along the stem. Each tuft is often made up of three to eight branches. The plant is pale green with shades of pink, red, yellow or brown.
The stems are erect and individually weak and gain support by aggregation and growing in dense masses or cushions. Sphagnum can absorb large amount of water. It is extensively used by gardeners in nursery to keep seedlings and cut plant parts moist during propagation. Mosses like Sphagnum which got compacted and fossilized over the past thousands of years have become peat. Peat is a valuable fuel like coal.