Difference between Sphagnum Moss and Sheet Moss

Mosses are bryophytes with more than 12000 known species. They are usually found in shady locations that are moist. They form layers or carpets on the forest floor and woodland. They help ecologically, by breaking down and providing nutrients for their succeeding plants. By forming a cover on the soil they also prevent soil erosion.

Sphagnum moss and sheet moss (Hypnum sp.) are the two mosses that form a carpet on the forest floor. Let us differentiate between a Sphagnum and sheet moss in the table below.

Sphagnum Moss

Kingdom: Plantae

Division: Bryophyta

Class: Sphagnopsida

Order: Sphagnales

Family: Sphagnaceae


Sphagnum moss or peat moss is a bryophyte with more than 300 known species. They form thick clumps around swamps and ponds. The plants grow up to 30cm tall and are characterised by leaflike structures called phyllids. The moss can hold water up to 20 times its weight.

The growth of moss in a waterbody increases the acidity of the water due to their metabolic activity. The low pH leads to less bacterial invasion, and thus prevents decay.

Over time, dead plants break down chemically to accumulate in organic layers known as peat. The Sphagnum species is the majority in the formation of peat moss. The peat moss is harvested and dried and used as fuel. Other uses of peat moss include in dressings, diapers, bedding and lamp wicks.

Sheet Moss

Kingdom: Plantae

Division: Bryophyta

Class: Bryopsida

Order: Hypnales

Family: Hypnaceae


Sheet moss or hypnum moss are bryophytes that belong to the genus Hypnum. It consists of more than 80 species. They form dense green mats on the forest floors, mostly on decaying wood found in moist areas.

The Hypnum genus is dioecious, having male and female reproductive organs on different plants. The leaflike structures called phyllids are curved and resemble cypress trees.

They have been used in filling mattresses and pillows and are also known to induce sleep.

Sphagnum Moss vs Sheet Moss

Sphagnum Moss

Sheet Moss


Sphagnum moss is a bryophyte that forms dense clumps around moist shady locations.

Sheet moss is a bryophyte that carpets the forest floor increasing its aesthetic view.





It forms peat moss that is harvested and dried to be used as fuel.

It is used by florists for decorations, and was previously used to fill mattresses and pillows.

Common Name

Peat moss

Sheet moss / Carpet moss

Sexual Condition

It can be monoecious or dioecious.

They are dioecious.

Explore BYJU’S Biology for more information.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are green moss and Sphagnum moss the same?

The green living part of the Sphagnum moss is the green moss and the dead decayed portion of the moss is the peat moss.

What grows well in Sphagnum moss?

Epiphytic plants like orchids grow well in the Sphagnum moss.

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