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Cambridge Group 2004/5



 A notable feature of the Cambridgeshire bryophyte records in recent years has been the steady trickle of new vice-county records. Most of these have been well-understood native species, rather than invasive aliens or the results of taxonomic revisions. The fact that we are still adding such species to the county list after many years of relatively intensive study probably reflects in part the difficulty of detecting small plants which are sometimes found in cryptic habitats, and in part the changing distributions of species which are readily dispersed and are spreading into the county in response to changing environmental conditions. This year we report no fewer than five species new to the county. Two of these were discovered by Robin Stevenson in his study of the bryophytes growing in East Anglian orchards; the remaining three were detected during fieldwork for the proposed new bryophyte flora of the county.

We are now more than half way through the planned 10 years of fieldwork for the new flora. In connection with this project, we have started to re-examine herbarium specimens of the species that have not been recorded in the county since 2000. J. J. Graham joined us to check Cambridgeshire material of some wetland Amblystegiaceae at a taxonomic workshop led by L. Hedenäs at Anglia Polytechnic University in February 2005, and some results of this investigation are included below.


Campylium stellatum var. stellatum Gamlingay, 27.4.1827 and 29.5.1838, Mus. Henslow, CGE, conf. L. Hedenäs & M.O.H. Although this taxon is recorded from several 10-km squares since 1950 in the 1964 Flora and the 1983 Checklist, these fine fruiting specimens appear to be the only correctly named specimens from the vice-county. There are earlier records in Relhan’s Floras from ‘Turfy Bogs’ at Hinton, Chippenham and Shelford Moors which may also be correct, but all later specimens in CGE are misidentified. These include material from Great Abington, which is Drepanocladus polygamus (see below), and plants from Chippenham Fen (1990), Quy Fen (1955), Thriplow marsh (1956), Wicken Fen (1951, 1957) and Wilbraham Fen (1880) which are var. protensum. Although there are numerous records of var. stellatum which are not supported by specimens, especially from Wicken Fen, there is no reason to believe that they are any more reliable. Var. stellatum must therefore be regarded as extinct in Cambridgeshire. These varieties are now treated as species by many authorities.

Drepanocladus polygamus Old gravel pit, Great Abington, TL 524491, H.L.K. Whitehouse, 27.1.1957, CGE as Campylium stellatum, redetermined by J. J. Graham & M.O.H., 2005. This provides an additional historical record for this species in the county. It has not been seen since 1957, when it was collected at Wicken Fen as well as Great Abington. The record from TF40 in the 1964 Flora must be deleted – it is based on a specimen in CGE from Gray’s Moor Pits, TF414007, collected by B. Reeve on 3.10.1959, which has been redetermined by M.O.H. as Leptodictyum riparium.

Hennediella macrophylla Steep, eroding bank of River Kennett near Upend, TL 702579, M.O.H., 13.3.2005. Trampled, shaded soil at base of lime trees near entrance to Clare College, Queen’s Road, Cambridge, TL 443583, C.D.P., 19.3.2005. This alien moss was first found in Cambs in 2003 on a trampled path in Ely. It grows in a number of tourist attractions near the Thames in London, including Hampton Court and the Kennedy Memorial at Runnymede, so it has always seemed a likely species to spread to Cambridge. However, its discovery in a semi-natural habitat by the Kennett was less predictable.  

Herzogiella seligeri Decaying log immediately south of main ride, Hardwick Wood, TL 353576, M.O.H., 6.2.2005. The only records of this species since 1970 have been from Chippenham Fen.

Leucodon sciuroides Base of apple tree in old orchard N. of Rummers Lane, Wisbech St Mary, TF 416075, C. R. Stevenson, 12 & 19.5.2004. Although L. sciuroides is known on stone substrates in a few places in the county, this is the first record as an epiphyte since E. W. Jones found it at two sites in 1933: on the base of a tree at Barrington and on an oak near Stetchworth.

Pylaisia polyantha Fruiting plants on apple trees in old orchard N. of Rummers Lane, Wisbech St Mary, TF 414074, 415074 and 417074, C. R. Stevenson, 12 & 19.5.2004, BBSUK, conf. G. P. Rothero. The first vice-county records of an uncommon epiphyte.

Rhynchostegiella curviseta Silty brickwork under bridge over R. Kennett near Upend, TL 702580, M.O.H., 13.3.2005. This pleurocarpous moss is rare in East Anglia, and in our county has hitherto been found only in Cambridge. It still (2005) survives in at least one of its Cambridge localities, Little St Mary’s churchyard.

Rhynchostegiella teneriffae Fruiting plants with Fissidens crassipes and Rhynchostegium riparioides just above the water level on bridge over R. Mel, Melbourn village, TL 380449, M.O.H., 13.3.2005. The second vice-county record of a species which, like R. curviseta, was hitherto known only from Cambridge city.

Sanionia uncinata Apple tree in old orchard N. of Rummers Lane, Wisbech St Mary, TF 415074, C. R. Stevenson, 12.5.2004, BBSUK, conf. G. P. Rothero. Apple tree in orchard planted c .1916, S.W. fringe of Wisbech, TF 447076, C. R. Stevenson, 30.12.2004. The first vice-county records of an epiphyte which may be spreading in eastern England .

Scleropodium cespitans Abundant at the edges of old asphalt drive and in a band along the centre of the drive, entrance to Moat Farm, Upend, TL 701585, M.O.H., 13.3.2005. We have reported the rediscovery of this species in its natural habitat, trees by water, in the last three reports. In the highly artificial habitat at Upend it was accompanied by two other species which also appear to spread from riverside habitats to asphalt paths, Didymodon nicholsonii and Syntrichia latifolia.

Seligeria donniana Plants with dehiscing capsules on chalk pebble in rabbit hole on S-facing chalk grassland slope, Devil’s Ditch N. of A1304, TL 61.61., R.J. Fisk, 19.2.2005, BBSUK, conf. G. P. Rothero. New vice-county record. Two species of Seligeria are well-known on chalk in the county but S. donniana is generally regarded as avoiding chalk, although it occurs on northern limestones and more locally on other calcareous rocks in Britain. Richard Fisk found it by putting his hand in the rabbit hole and bringing out for examination any chalk stones he could feel; it is not surprising that it has escaped less thorough observers at this well-known locality.

Syntrichia latifolia Plants abundant, and fruiting sparingly, on elders in scrub by footbridge over R. Cam, Croydon, TL 306475, M.O.H. & C.D.P., 2.4.2005. This species has not previously been found fruiting in the county; indeed, it was one of the species “in which capsules are of very rare occurrence in the British Isles” listed in the 1964 Flora. The fruits had not dehisced in the field, but were clearly about to do so as one dehisced in M.O.H.’s collecting tin on his journey home.

Thuidium philibertii Unimproved, slightly calcareous back garden lawn,51 Hills Avenue, Cambridge, TL 468561, J. J. Graham, 4.2001, det. M.O.H. Edge of lawn by oolitic limestone balustrade, Longstowe Hall, TL 308557, C. R. Stevenson, 17.10.2004. Scattered stems at marshy edge of calcareous pool, with Campylium protensum, Drepancladus aduncus, Fissidens adianthoides and Mentha aquatica, Bassenhally Pit, Whittlesey, TL 287985, J. J. Graham & P. Stroh, 23.3.2005. This species was formerly known from the lawn at Hildersham Hall, where it appears to be extinct; these new records are therefore particularly welcome. The 2001 record was inadvertently omitted from our earlier reports.

Zygodon rupestris Near base of ash in secondary woodland, N. side of chalk pit, Morden Grange, Steeple Morden, TL 296402, C.D.P., 2.1.2005, BBSUK, conf. G. P. Rothero. The first vice-county record of the rarest of the three widespread Zygodon species in England.


Cephalozia lunulifolia With Orthotrichum lineare on rotting tree stump, Hardwick Wood, TL 353576, C.D.P., 6.2.2005, BBSUK, conf. T. H. Blackstock. This is a new vice-county record for a calcifuge species which is rare in East Anglia and the English Midlands. The plants at Hardwick were highly gemmiferous.

Lophozia perssonii On the surface of chalk rocks and on thin soil over chalk, with Leiocolea turbinata and Seligeria calcarea, Station Quarry, Steeple Morden, TL 300388, C.D.P., 4.12.2004. This is the third Cambs locality for this rare liverwort, which was still present in small quantity at Cherry Hinton in 2001 but has not been seen at Fleam Dyke since 1981.


first published in Nature in Cambridgeshire 47: 92-95, (2005) .

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