Cranberry Lake Biological Station

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In the Adirondack region, mosses were one of many plants gathered and utilized by indigenous peoples. However, there is a limited amount of literature available that connects traditional moss usage with Western scientific methodology. Sphagnum moss was a popular resource among communities and was utilized for food preservation, cradles, insulation, furniture stuffing, and infant diapers (Harris, 2008). An effective moss diaper would be insulating, absorbent, and easy to prepare. This study attempted to verify indigenous knowledge by assessing heat retention, water holding capacity, and debris contained in four local moss genera: Sphagnum (peat moss), Polytrichum (haircap moss), Dicranum (carpet moss) and Leucobryum (pincushion moss). Processed Gossypium (cotton) was used as a control for heat retention and water-holding capacity experiments. These attributes were assessed to determine which moss was most likely used as an effective diaper material by native peoples in the region.



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