The distribution of Sphagnum cuspidatum has been subject to controversy. Although historically reported from all continents except Antarctica recent authors consider S. cuspidatum to be endemic to Europe and eastern North America. Microsatellites from Australian plants morphologically identified as S. cuspidatum were compared to microsatellites of plants morphologically identified as S. cuspidatum collected from other regions. The species was found to occur in Australia as well as on every continent except Antarctica. The sample most closely related to the Australian plants was collected in the Philippines, and samples from Australia, the Philippines, Colombia, and Equatorial Guinea formed a subclade within S. cuspidatum. Microsatellites further show that S. cuspidatum is one of the parental species of the double allopolyploid S. falcatulum, a Holantarctic species which is reported from Tasmania, New Zealand, and Chile.
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