During the Jurassic Period, North America contained large swamps and the climate was warm and moist. Huge dinosaurs lived in these swamps, and reptiles of many kinds swam in the sea or even flew. One hundred fifty-five million years ago, during this Mesozoic era, a well-known plant which many gardeners use every day, began to flourish sphagnum moss.
During the Ice Age, glaciers covered large parts of North America. As the last great glacier gouged all trees and plants as it made its way south, a quite fortunate happening occurred. In what is now the Central Wisconsin marshland, the glacier split and created a huge lake leaving the prehistoric sphagnum moss plant to flourish. When the glaciers receded during the Jurassic Period, the sprawling marshland that remained was filled with live sphagnum moss.
Horticulturists have long known the benefits of long-fibered sphagnum moss. With its unique qualities of retaining 20 times its weight in water and its anti-bacterial sterility, sphagnum moss has become an indispensable gardening tool in the propagation and beautification process.
Long-fibered sphagnum moss is harvested from the Wisconsin marshes where, during the winter, temperatures can reach 55° below zero. The ecosystem of these marshes is tightly controlled, and the sphagnum moss assists in retaining and holding the structure of the marshes. To protect these marshes, long-fibered sphagnum moss is gently harvested by "mossers" working in hip boots, who pull the moss, breaking it at the soil line, and prepare the water-laden sphagnum moss for commercial use.
Long-fibered sphagnum moss is a perennial plant that propagates through a process known as sporing. This is Mother Nature's method of allowing the plant to die and decompose on its ancestors, while still permitting the continuing propagation of the species. Hundreds of feet below the area where the mossers are working during the dry summer months, the ancestors of the product they pull have long since died and decomposed into sphagnum peat. Mosser Lee chooses not to dig out the peat as it would kill the propagation process, and these wonderful plants would be lost forever.
The Mosser Lee Company was established in 1932 in Millston, Wisconsin. It is the largest producer and fabricator of sphagnum moss and sphagnum moss products. Its many customers include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, numerous state institutions, agricultural colleges, greenhouses, nurseries, professional and home gardeners.