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RE: Harmful Fungus in Sphagnum Moss?

  • Subject: RE: Harmful Fungus in Sphagnum Moss?
  • From: Ron McHatton <rmchatton@photocircuits.com>
  • Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 14:36:27 -0500 (CDT)

     When the use of sphagnum moss as a potting material for orchids caught 
on some 15 years or so ago, one of the first issues to surface was the 
purported presence of spores of a fungus which could be contracted by 
humans.  The physical manifestation of infection is the formation of a 
round cyst like object deep within the skin which works its way slowly to 
the surface and breaks open releasing spores.  These cyst like objects are 
typically about half the size of a pinhead or so although in some published 
cases they are quite large and apparently bothersome.  There was an article 
illustrated with pictures published in the American Orchid Society Bulletin 
some years ago (if you would like a copy, I could probably locate it). 
 That article demonstrates being able to culture the spores from virgin as 
well as used wet moss.  This launched the scare that had a lot of people 
sterilizing their moss, working with impermeable gloves and surgical masks 
or for some people even respirators around the moss.  What wasn't reported 
publicly (very well anyway) was subsequent work which demonstrated that the 
same fungus can be cultured from anything we use as potting material, even 
things like Fafard 3B and Promix.  Infection in humans is possible (as far 
as I am aware, only through an already existing wound), but it is extremely 
rare and apparently not worth the effort worrying about and bottom line is 
that you can get the same infection from any material, fir bark, promix, 
sphagnum moss, coconut husk chips, etc.  I have been growing orchids for 
something like 37 years, and I am more worried about the dust from dry 
perlite and the little slivers of bark than fungal problems.

Ron McHatton

-----Original Message-----
From:	Ron Iles [SMTP:roniles@eircom.net]
Sent:	Thursday, June 21, 2001 12:05 PM
To:	Multiple recipients of list AROID-L
Subject:	Re: Harmful Fungus in Sphagnum Moss?

Welcome back Don!  Hurray!

Rural Ireland is substantially peat bog but I don't know anything about its
fungal pathogens but how about its spores?  Bracken is nasty I'm told,
ticks, Lime Disease.



----- Original Message -----
From: "Don Burns" <donburns@macconnect.com>
To: "Multiple recipients of list AROID-L" <aroid-l@mobot.org>
Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2001 3:56 PM
Subject: Harmful Fungus in Sphagnum Moss?

| In my few years of growing aroids I have periodically heard stories about
a harmful
| (to humans) fungus that grows and reproduces itself in ground or 
| sphagnum. Has anyone else heard these stories or seen written information
| the subject?
| Don Burns
| Plantation FL    Zone 10b

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