Sphagnum Moss

Sphagnum cymbilifolium - Ehrh.

Medicinal Uses

Antiseptic; Skin; Stings.

The whole fresh plant is antiseptic. Because of its absorptive properties, it makes an excellent wound dressing and has been widely employed for this purpose in the past. The moss is dried thoroughly before use. A tar extracted from the decaying moss is antiseptic and is seen as a valuable external application in the treatment of eczema, psoriasis, pruritus and many other forms of skin diseases. It is very beneficial for allaying irritation from insect bites and can also serve as a preventative to being bitten.

Other Uses

Baby care; Bedding; Compost; Cotton wool; Lining; Mulch; Packing; Repellent.

The fresh plant is permeated with minute tubes and spaces, resulting in a system of delicate capillary tubes that has the effect of a very fine sponge. The dried plant can absorb up to 16 times its own weight of water and so has been found to be effective when used for surgical dressings, sanitary towels, babies nappies etc. The moss can absorb moisture laterally, as well as from above, it holds onto all the moisture until fully soaked before releasing any. Thus a dressing of the moss needs to be changed less frequently than cotton wool dressings. Sphagnum moss also makes a good packing material for protecting delicate items in transit, it can be used as a cotton wool substitute and as a potting material for many species of orchid. The semi-decomposed plant, excavated from bogs, is a first rate soil conditioner and is also used in seed and potting composts. However, the extensive use of this product is leading to the destruction of many natural moss bogs, a delicate habitat that takes centuries to be restored. Small scale use of sphagnum moss peat is probably sustainable for local use but alternatives need to be sought for larger scale use.