Like this spectacular lady's slipper. From All Sands:
The Lady's Slipper is one of the few flowers which has been named for the shape of its blossom. Cypripedium, the scientific name for this flower, actually means venus slipper in Greek. The common name changes it to Lady's Slipper and with an great deal of imagination one can see how this is applicable. This plant is a species of the orchid family. It requires an acidic soil which is why most are seen in the humus rich areas of oak or pine forest.
Much like the family it comes from, which has an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 members, Lady's Slipper can survive in places from the tropics to the arctic tundra, but the greatest number of these flowers that are not grown in greenhouses exist in the warmer climates.
It was clear pretty quickly that Marilyn's background as a biology professor was going to assure that this was no superficial lecture. She's been to international conferences on sphagnum moss and tramped all around Alaska identifying them.
OK, #1 I got. But after that, shall we say my brain was stretched a bit.
She did explain these terms and I understand them now a bit, but not enough to try to explain them here.
Here's a close up of a dried sphagnum moss she had in her collection.
So, the question in the title. I know that's why you're still here. From Marilyn's talk:
- Fuel - in the form of peat (not all peat is sphagnum moss we learned.)
- The smoke from sphagnum moss gave Scot's whiskey its flavor
- Gives (NH₄)₃SO₄ for fertilizer
- Used as soil conditioner, acidifier
- First disposable diaper
Like, how many kinds of sphagnum moss are there? 150 - 300
And how many grow in Alaska? 38-40
And people like Marilyn can identify many of them. I'm not even sure I could identify a sphagnum moss from another kind of moss, though she told us how. But I'd have to go out and look and see if what I understood was as obvious with living moss as she made it out to be.