The exact mechanism has traditionally attributed to a "pop gun" method using air compressed in the capsule, reaching a maximum velocity of 3.6 meters per second, High-speed photography has shown vortex rings are created during the discharge, which enable the spores to reach a height of 10 to 20 cm, further than would be expected by ballistics alone. Decayed, dried sphagnum moss has the name of peat or peat moss.

This is used as a soil conditioner which increases the soil's capacity to hold water and nutrients by increasing capillary forces and cation exchange capacity.

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Carpets of living Sphagnum may be attacked by various fungi, and one fungus that is also a mushroom, Sphagnurus paluster, produces conspicuous dead patches.

When this fungus and other agarics attack the protonema, Sphagnum is induced to produce non-photosynthetic gemmae that can survive the fungal attack and months later germinate to produce new protonema and leafy gametophytes.

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.

Peat areas are also found in New Zealand and Tasmania.

In the Southern Hemisphere, however, peat landscapes may contain many moss species other than Sphagnum.Peat moss can be distinguished from other moss species by its unique branch clusters.The plant and stem color, the shape of the branch and stem leaves, and the shape of the green cells are all characteristics used to identify peat moss to species.Tetrahedral haploid spores are produced in the sporophyte by meiosis, which are then dispersed when the capsule explosively discharges its cap, called an operculum, and shoots the spores some distance.The spores germinate to produce minute protonemae, which start as filaments, can become thalloid, and can produce a few rhizoids.In addition, bogs, like all wetlands, develop anaerobic soil conditions, which produces slower anaerobic decay rather than aerobic microbial action.