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Meetings of the BBS - 2000

Spring Field Meeting 2000

Bude, North Cornwall, 12-19 April



The northernmost part of East Cornwall (VC 2) has been somewhat neglected by bryologists. Most of the previous records result from Jean Paton’s county-wide surveys during the 1960s. It is distant from the homes of resident bryologists and it has not been the focus of any previous BBS meeting. Over the past decade the region has remained poorly covered by the ongoing tetrad survey of Cornish bryophytes that has now achieved good coverage in West Cornwall (VC 1) and patchy coverage in some areas of East Cornwall (VC 2).

The ‘north-east corner’ differs from most of Cornwall, and resembles large areas of north Devon, in being underlain by Carboniferous rocks, including coal measures (‘culm’). These culm rocks form coastal cliffs of shale, slate and sandstone, some of them high, but inland there are only rounded hills and much gently sloping ground which supports poorly drained pasture. However, several days of the meeting were spent further to the south-west, giving opportunities to see the prevalent Devonian slates interrupted by intrusive igneous rocks on the coast around Tintagel and Boscastle, and the rather uniform granitic uplands of Bodmin Moor.

Our base was the Burn Court Hotel in Bude which was large enough to accommodate most participants. The meeting was well attended, with 47 present in all, of which no fewer than 25 remained for fieldwork on the last morning.

In the following account, tetrads are indicated in the standard fashion, i.e. labelled A-N, P-Z within each 10-km square, with A being in the SW corner of the square and Z in the NE corner.


St Gennys (SX19N) to Scrade Water (SX19P)

A wide range of habitats, including cliffs, coastal heath, streams, sallow carr, deciduous groves and walls near the church, were searched, resulting in a splendid list for the St Gennys tetrad of 106 mosses and 34 liverworts. The most significant finds were from the cliffs: Coscinodon cribrosus (the first of a series of new records obtained during the meeting for this scarce moss) and Weissia brachycarpa var. brachycarpa Other species of note included Brachythecium mildeanum, Bryum donianum, B. dunense, Cephaloziella stellulifera, Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum, Epipterygium tozeri, Fissidens exilis, F. limbatus, Frullania fragilifolia, Orthotrichum tenellum, Pleuridium subulatum, Scleropodium tourettii, Syntrichia laevipila (including var. laevipilaeformis) and Tortula viridifolia.

Penfound Manor (SX29J)

Late in the day a small group made an unsuccessful attempt to refind Phaeoceros carolinianus at its only Cornish locality to the south of Penfound Manor, recording 23 mosses and 12 liverworts mainly from a wet track and a field.


Rocky Valley and Bossiney (SX08U)

Another dry and bright day led to high hopes as a large party of bryologists followed a small river down to the coast. The first Willow Warbler of the year was singing, along with the Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs that often overwinter in Cornwall.

The variety of habitats, ranging from laneside banks and deciduous woodland to river edges and coastal cliffs, resulted in an impressive bryophyte list by Cornish standards with 103 mosses and 33 liverworts. The best find was of Fossombronia maritima* by Jean Paton. The rare Dumortiera hirsuta found on the river bank by Bob Finch was a new record this far downstream. However, a small patch of Lophocolea bispinosa near the cliff top was a less welcome discovery as this alien now appears to be spreading so rapidly in East Cornwall that there are fears it will become invasive. Other significant finds were of Amblystegium serpens var. salinum, Amphidium mougeotii, Anthoceros punctatus, Bryum donianum, Epipterygium tozeri, Fissidens osmundoides, Fossombronia angulosa, Frullania fragilifolia, F. microphylla var. microphylla, Gymnostomum aeruginosum, Rhabdoweisia fugax, Riccia crozalsii, Tortula atrovirens, Weissia brachycarpa var. brachycarpa and W. perssonii.

Tintagel Church to Tintagel Haven (SX08P)

By afternoon the weather had become cool and windy for the cliff-top walk. Several of the bryophytes found were new records here of uncommon species, notably (more) Coscinodon cribrosus found by Cliff Townsend, Fissidens rivularis found by Sam Bosanquet, and (more) Fossombronia maritima. Other noteworthy finds were of Amblystegium serpens var. salinum, Brachythecium mildeanum, Bryum donianum, B. dunense, B. violaceum, Cephaloziella stellulifera, Gyroweisia tenuis, Microbryum starckeanum, Scleropodium tourettii, Tortula atrovirens and Weissia perssonii.

SE of Trewarmett (SX08T)

Several visits to the vicinity of disused quarries here failed to refind a 1960s record of Philonotis arnellii. However, recording by Christine Rieser and Frank Lammiman disclosed that Fossombronia husnotii was still present. Lophocolea bispinosa was discovered on china-clay spoil at the edge of the track into a public car park.


Rusey Cliff (SX19G, SX19H)

A very large party of about 40 bryologists swarmed down a lane from the roadside car parks and provided saturation cover for searching the rich rocky and heathy slopes of Cornwall’s highest cliffs.

Most of the scarcer species recorded here in the past were refound, including Bryum donianum, Campylopus pilifer, Coscinodon cribrosus, Cynodontium bruntonii, Diphyscium foliosum, Hedwigia stellata, Marsupella funckii, Pogonatum nanum and Scapania scandica.

Seán O’Leary made the best find of the day, of a patch of Tritomaria quinquedentata*, a species new to Cornwall. Furthermore, it was growing intermixed with Plagiochila punctata, a new record from the coastal cliffs.

The Strangles (SX19H)

After lunch, forces were divided between the slaty coastal cliffs further north around The Strangles and wooded valleys a short distance inland (see below). The coastal group worked hard to refind Cornwall’s only (1969) record of Gymnomitrion concinnatum, but without success. Existing records indicated that several of the scarcer species found at Rusey Cliff extend to The Strangles, and of these Campylopus pilifer, Coscinodon cribrosus and Cynodontium bruntonii were refound. Other finds included Bryum dunense, Frullania fragilifolia, F. microphylla var. microphylla, Pogonatum nanum, Scapania scandica and Scleropodium tourettii.

East of Trevigue (SX19H, SX19M)

Stream edges and deciduous woodlands inland were searched by another large party, resulting in numerous records from two tetrads. Characteristic species found included Cirriphyllum piliferum, Dichodontium pellucidum, Lejeunea cavifolia, Lophocolea fragrans, Neckera pumila, Orthotrichum pulchellum and Tetraphis pellucida.

Dizzard (SX19U)

Jeff Duckett, Howard Matcham and Ron Porley explored the Bynorth Cliff end of the coastal woodlands at Dizzard. A substantial list of bryophytes recorded there included Chiloscyphus pallescens, Cryphaea heteromalla, Entosthodon obtusus, Fissidens celticus and Zygodon conoideus.


Morwenstow (SS21C), along coast (SS11X) to Stanbury Mouth (SS11W), and back by way of Stanbury (SS21B)

A fine sunny day provided ideal conditions for this long coastal walk and return along footpaths inland. The vicinity of Morwenstow produced records of Amblystegium tenax, Bryum donianum, Dichodontium pellucidum, Fissidens curnovii, F. exilis, Lejeunea cavifolia, Lophocolea fragrans and Pellia neesiana. Coastal slopes from Higher Sharpnose Point southwards held Cephaloziella stellulifera, Coscinodon cribrosus, Cynodontium bruntonii, Fissidens limbatus, Scleropodium tourettii, Tortula atrovirens and Weissia perssonii. A flushed area along the Tidna Valley produced a confusing mixture of similar Weissia taxa growing in close proximity to each other that was eventually found to include both W. brachycarpa var. brachycarpa and W. rutilans.

The route back inland past Stanbury provided numerous records from yet another tetrad. Cephaloziella turneri was found on a laneside bank by Nick Hodgetts, adding to the few records of this very uncommon species from the northern part of VC 2. Other finds in the same area included Fissidens incurvus, F. limbatus, Lophocolea fragrans and Philonotis arnellii.

Sandy Mouth (SS20E)

Late in the afternoon an attempt was made to record bryophytes in this ‘unexplored’ area. Sandy Mouth seems inappropriately named as it has low cliffs rather than sands, and these are backed by bryologically rather dull farmland. Nevertheless, energetic recording on the cliffs revealed Acaulon muticum, Bryum dunense, Tortula atrovirens and T. viridifolia. Just inland, a thorough search around the edges of a field of bean stubble revealed Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum along with a few commoner species.

Lee Wood, Stowe Wood and Stibb Wood (SS21A and SS21F)

Frank Lammiman and Christine Rieser spent the day inland in SS21 covering mainly woodland habitats in two previously unrecorded tetrads. A good range of bryophytes found there included Cirriphyllum piliferum, Ctenidium molluscum, Dicranum majus, Hookeria lucens, Lepidozia reptans, Neckera pumila, Plagiochila asplenioides and Scapania nemorea.


Rough Tor (SX18K)

Unfortunately, our day reserved for long walks on the exposed hills of Bodmin Moor was cold and windy with heavy showers, often of hail. Nevertheless, there were bright sunny spells between the showers that produced song from newly arrived Wheatears. The coming of spring was also in evidence from flowering Round-leaved Crowfoot Ranunculus omiophyllus in flushes.

The granitic tors and boulder-covered slopes high on Rough Tor form some of the richest bryophyte habitats in Cornwall, with several locally rare species. A visit by such a large group of skilled bryologists provided a good opportunity to check on the continued presence of the more important species, and it is pleasing to report that almost all of them were refound (notably Antitrichia curtipendula, Barbilophozia barbata, B. floerkei, Cynodontium bruntonii, Dicranum scottianum, Douinia ovata, Nardia compressa, Plagiochila punctata, P. spinulosa, Plagiothecium denticulatum var. obtusifolium, Polytrichum alpinum and Ptilidium ciliare). Only Grimmia curvata was not refound, but it might yet be refound lurking in a rocky crevice somewhere on the hill. Antitrichia curtipendula appears to be maintaining its status on Rough Tor, with three strong patches.

On the way up the hill Cliff Townsend found a pair of somebody else’s spectacles which served well as a replacement for his own that had been lost on a previous day. Indeed, they quickly enabled him to make a new record for Rough Tor of Lepidozia cupressina, a rare plant in Cornwall. Other new finds for Rough Tor made by various members of the party were of Bazzania trilobata, Frullania fragilifolia, Lejeunea cavifolia and (on a low wall) Rhynchostegium murale.

Although it has been known here for many years, most visitors to Cornwall were surprised to see the ‘calcicolous’ Tortella tortuosa (a rarity in the county) forming several large patches on granitic crags and even more surprised to notice that a few capsules were present. Likewise, a small patch of Orthotrichum pulchellum on an exposed granitic boulder was a surprising find of a plant on the ‘wrong’ substrate in the ‘wrong’ habitat.

Besides bryophytes, Fir Clubmoss Huperzia selago was refound at one of its few Cornish localities and large quantities of both species of filmy-fern (Hymenophyllum) were seen.

Brown Willy (SX17P, SX17U)

The party divided during the afternoon because the land-owner requested that numbers on Brown Willy should be limited to 20. The heathy slopes and granitic rocks there provided similar environments to those on Rough Tor, and several of the same scarcer bryophytes were (re-)found, including Amphidium mougeotii, Antitrichia curtipendula, Bartramia pomiformis, Cynodontium bruntonii, Kurzia sylvatica, Lepidozia cupressina, Plagiochila punctata, P. spinulosa, Plagiothecium denticulatum var. obtusifolium and Ptilidium ciliare. Antitrichia seemed to be thriving on Brown Willy, with at least 20 patches, perhaps because the current very heavy grazing by sheep reduces shade from competing vascular plants.

Crowdy Reservoir (SX18G, SX18L)

The other half of the group visited a degraded and severely over-grazed bog to the south of Crowdy Reservoir, and also searched the dam of the reservoir and its vicinity. Although the bog habitat was disappointing, it produced the second record in Cornwall of Riccardia palmata found by Jean Paton, along with Cladopodiella fluitans, seven species of Sphagna and Warnstorfia exannulata. Masonry of the reservoir dam added several significant records of mosses uncommon on Bodmin Moor, notably Didymodon luridus and Orthotrichum cupulatum.

Treliske Hospital (SW74X)

Jonathan Sleath nobly spent much of the day securing treatment for a member who sustained a cut hand on Rough Tor during the morning. After journeying from one casualty department to another (‘Bodmin Hospital doesn’t do hands’) they reached Treliske Hospital west of Truro (in VC 1). The long wait for treatment then allowed Jonathan to do full justice to the bryoflora of the hospital grounds. Since there were no existing records for tetrad SW74X, his 50 mosses and eight liverworts all counted as new data. Among them were Bryum donianum and Riccia glauca!


Valency Valley, Peters Wood, Minster Church and Minster Wood (SX19A)

Light drizzle soon after we started turned into steady rain as the morning progressed. Dippers along the River Valency were unperturbed by the weather, as was Bob Finch, who soon secured his second new locality for Dumortiera hirsuta by wading along the rocky river in order to search the base of the banks. Further paddling by Bob, Nick Hodgetts, David Long and Mark Pool resulted in finds of additional patches of D. hirsuta extending over several hundreds of metres, and also finds of Jubula hutchinsiae, for which this was also a new locality well downstream of the known sites.

Other bryophytes found along the river and in adjoining woodlands included Amphidium mougeotii, Amblystegium fluviatile, Fissidens rivularis, Heterocladium wulfsbergii, Nowellia curvifolia, Pellia neesiana, Pogonatum nanum, Rhynchostegium alopecuroides, Scapania nemorea, Schistostega pennata and Trichostomum tenuirostre.

Schistostega pennata

Lunch was eaten in steady rain while sitting on walls around the securely locked Minster Church. David Holyoak picked a scrap of Grimmia from the church wall that later revealed itself as the second Cornish record of G. hartmanii. Didymodon insulanus was found near the church.

Boscastle Harbour (SX09V)

Steady rain continued during the afternoon, when intrepid teams of bryologists scoured both sides of Boscastle Harbour. The northern team mingled with holidaymakers and felt some sympathy for them with their soggy trainers, high-heeled shoes and baby-buggies as they competed with us for the easier paths over the coastal rocks. Unfortunately, the harbour proved to be too wide for the northern and southern teams of bryologists to be within earshot, so that records were kept separately after attempts at semaphore failed. A modest list of bryophytes found included Amphidium mougeotii, Bryum donianum, Entosthodon obtusus, Eurhynchium crassinervium, Hennediella heimii, Riccia beyrichiana, Tortella nitida and Weissia rutilans. As the rain continued our recording cards became too soft to write on, so eventually we all gave up and returned early to the hotel.


Thanks are due to the Burn Court Hotel for their hospitality and for providing such efficient and friendly service combined with excellent value. The National Trust and other land-owners gave permission to visit their land. Jean Paton took the larger share in planning the itinerary and making arrangements for the meeting, so that its smooth running owes much to her diligence and forethought. All members kindly responded patiently to pleas for bryophytes to be recorded by tetrads and my pestering them about determinations. Sixteen members supplied lists of records: John Blackburn, Tom Blockeel, Sam Bosanquet, Bob Finch, Richard Fisk, Mark Hill, Nick Hodgetts, Frank Lammiman, Mark Lawley, David Long, Seán O’Leary, Jean Paton, Ron Porley, Christine Rieser, Jonathan Sleath and Cliff Townsend. An impressive body of sound data resulted, comprising 1512 records in total.



Summer Field Meeting 2000

Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, 19-27 August

The 2000 Summer Meeting was based at Castlehead Field Studies Centre in the village of Lindale, near Grange-over-Sands on the north coast of Morecambe Bay in Furness (VC 69b). It was the first BBS field meeting ever to be held in this part of Westmorland. Castlehead Centre is within easy reach of a diversity of habitats: seaside rocks, sand dunes, woods (both on limestone and acidic rocks), peat mosses, open fellsides and rocky ghylls. During the week examples of all these habitats were visited. All localities were in VC 69.

John Blackburn, Mark Lawley, Seán O’Leary, Vincent Jones and Dan Wrench stayed at the Centre, but only the first three stayed for the full week, and are henceforth referred to as the ‘main party/contingent/group’. The remaining attendees consisted of visitors and members of the local recording team. Due to the time of year, attendees were decidedly thin on the ground - many people were either on holiday or had already used up their quota of holidays for the year; the meeting also clashed with the BSBI Recorders Meeting at Lancaster. Despite the low attendance those who could make it agreed it was a very enjoyable week.

The following is part of a letter from Seán which sums it all up: ‘.… thanks for a great bryological trip - I had a wonderful time with super accommodation, lovely localities, good mossing, unbelievable weather, and scrupulous organisation ....’. We are pleased that everyone enjoyed the meeting so much. The weather was ordered months in advance and duly arrived on time, and broke only on the last day at Barbondale, but after such an enjoyable week it did not dampen anyone’s spirits.

Our thanks to everyone who supported the meeting and to those who sent in records. All agreed the meeting was a great success, which resulted in many new records for the BBS Mapping Scheme and the Bryoflora of Westmorland project, which despite the work put into it is still experimental.


Glen Mary and Tarn Hows

Having arrived early, and now patiently waiting for the main party to arrive, Robert Blewitt amused himself by examining the walls of Tarn Hows car park, where he found the first good record of the day, Pterogonium gracile. Eventually a party of nine assembled in the car park, including Ian Wallace and his wife Mavis, Robert Goodison (who made a day trip all the way from Bradford) and Henry Adams from Kendal, and all now enjoyed an outstanding view of Lakeland. We made our way down Glen Mary, a steep wooded area with Tom Gill running through it, to start bryologising by the road at the bottom of the Glen in order to work our way back up the 600 metres to the tarn. The area is acidic in nature, with oak, birch and sycamore comprising the main tree cover.

As usual, much time was spent at the start recording everything in sight and getting the feel of the area. There were masses of Rhytidiadelphus loreus and Thuidium tamariscinum on the slopes together with patches of Leucobryum glaucum and Bazzania trilobata. The rocks had a generous covering of Andreaea rupestris var. rupestris and Racomitrium aquaticum, with R. aciculare in the stream. Some oaks were covered with large patches of Frullania tamarisci growing with F. dilatata, Lejeunea cavifolia, Microlejeunea ulicina and Brachythecium populeum. There was much dead wood about and Nowellia curvifolia was soon found in quantity, with Dicranum tauricum in small patches, this being only the second record for Furness. A good find after lunch was Jamesoniella autumnalis on a log near the stream.

Hookeria lucens was found on the shaded banks, along with Heterocladium heteropterum. Scapanias were well represented with S. gracilis, S. irrigua, S. nemorea and S. undulata all found. Diphyscium foliosum, Lophozia sudetica, Mylia taylorii and Saccogyna viticulosa were all seen but only in small quantities. A stretch of wall near the top of the Glen repaid the attention given to it, with Barbilophozia atlantica, B. barbata, B. floerkei and Metzgeria conjugata being found. We emerged at the top of the Glen, at the end of a splendid day, into bright sunshine.


Sandscale Haws

In addition to the main contingent we were joined by Henry Adams, Jim Adams and Keith Raistrick. We met in the car park of the National Trust reserve at Roanhead on the Duddon Estuary at the north end of Barrow in Furness. Sandscale Haws is an extensive area of sand dunes where natterjack toads breed in the dune slacks. There is also a rich vascular plant flora, but bryophytes are very under-recorded.

We had hot sunshine all day which was a blessing for one member who fell flat on his back in a stream within five minutes of starting out. Syntrichia ruraliformis is a locally dominant moss which forms extensive patches on the older dunes, as does Hypnum cupressiforme. Particularly interesting areas of the dunes are dry hollows where there is a thin layer of sand over the old shingle beach, which can be traced almost 2 km inland. Henry Adams recorded vascular plants here several years ago and also found Tortella inclinata; it was our wish to refind this species today. Henry seemed to remember that the site was at the south end of the reserve, which involved almost a 2 km yomp in baking sun over dunes from the car park at the north end, with ‘eyes up’ to save time. He was correct and the plant was indeed soon found in some quantity. T. inclinata was first found here by Jean Paton in 1965, and it remains to this day the only known site in the county. T. flavovirens also grows here; John collected some small samples for verification later at the Centre.

After lunch we walked through a much wetter area of fen where we found Sphagnum squarrosum and Calliergon cordifolium. Mark Lawley collected Warnstorfia exannulata. Leptodictyum riparium was found in dune slacks, where Drepanocladus polygamus had been recorded on a previous visit by Keith. Several dune slacks contained Wood Small-reed Calamagrostis epigejos, sometimes in abundance; Whorl-grass Catabrosa aquatica has also been recorded here at Sandscale. Despite recording only 21 species it was a very enjoyable day in a fascinating area.


Roudsea Wood and Mosses

Tuesday was another hot sunny day. The previous day’s group (except for Henry Adams) were joined by Doreen Howard from Grange, John Walters from Tebay, and Mike Hall from Rigmaden, all members of the local recording team.

Roudsea is unusually varied because it lies on two ridges of contrasting rock type, one limestone and one slate. The ridges are separated by a shallow valley which contains a mire and a small tarn. The wood merges in the east into peat moss, and in the west into saltmarsh and maritime rocks.

We were shown round the reserve by Mark Rawlinds, the assistant Reserve Manager, once members could be dragged away from looking for epiphytes! These included Orthotrichum spp, Ulota crispa, U. phyllantha, Frullania dilatata and Microlejeunea ulicina. Mark later showed us the rare Large Yellow-sedge Carex flava on calcareous peat at its only known site in Britain.

Most of the morning was spent in the wood on the limestone and in an old limestone quarry. In the afternoon we studied the bryophytes in Fish House Moss, finding eight species of Sphagnum: S. capillifolium, S. cuspidatum, S. fallax, S. fimbriatum, S. magellanicum, S. papillosum, S. subnitens and S. teres. There were also good colonies of White Beak-sedge Rhynchospora alba. The liverworts included Cladopodiella fluitans, Odontoschisma denudatum and O. sphagni. After looking at the woodland on the slate we finished the day searching the saltmarsh and seaside rocks where Schistidium maritimum was recorded. An interesting day in varied habitats yielded well over 80 species.


Borrowbeck and Ashstead Fell

This was the first time we had been out of Furness and into VC69a - true Westmorland. We met at a lay-by on the A6 about eight miles north of Kendal. The original party was joined by Vincent Jones and John Walters; Peter Harris came with Rod Corner from Penrith, and Henry Adams and Keith Raistrick arrived later.

We were in a completely different habitat from the previous day. Borrowbeck is a wide stream with many large boulders, and above it Ashstead Fell has mires with both acidic and basic flushes, topped with craggy rocks above Combe Hollow. From the main road the Fell is a prominent feature, 470 m high and half-clad in conifers.

The streamside rocks yielded Anomobryum julaceum, Hedwigia stellata, Blindia acuta and Andreaea rothii subsp. falcata. We looked mainly in the acid flushes as we climbed the fellside, finding Bryum pseudotriquetrum, Calliergon stramineum, Amphidium mougeotii, Drepanocladus cossonii, and seven species of Sphagnum: S. capillifolium, S. denticulatum, S. fallax, S. palustre, S. russowii, S. subnitens and S. teres. On rocks above Combe Hollow, Rod Corner’s ever-sharp eye detected Anthelia julacea, Kiaeria blyttii and Andreaea alpina on summit rocks. Hypnum callichroum remained undetected, although it was found some years earlier by Derek Ratcliffe in a similar site in the next tetrad north. Lastly, on our return, Didymodon acutus was found by the roadside.

Another hot sunny day which was too short for us to make anything like a complete survey of a very interesting area.


Eggerslack and Beech Hill Woods

Thursday saw us back in Furness again, and on the limestone. The main party was joined by Henry Adams and John Dunbavin, a Cumbria Wildlife Trust Reserves Officer accompanied by his enormous Alsatian dog who has a liking for sheep but was to be disappointed today.

In the morning we visited Eggerslack Wood in Grange-over-Sands. We parked in Grange and walked 150 metres along Windermere Road to the wood entrance. Most of us were eager to get to the wood, but the garden wall of the last house on the road proved especially interesting to the main group who spent a good 15 minutes ‘poking around’ (probably because it was limestone). Mark, John Blackburn and Seán found a number of interesting species, including Porella platyphylla, and were stopped only in the nick of time from scaling the wall to gain access to a lady’s rockery in the front garden of her bungalow.

The wood is predominantly on limestone but there is a finger of Silurian ‘Ludlow’ running through it on which Racomitrium aciculare has been recorded. The upper wood opens out onto fellside with limestone walls and outcrops. Most of the expected limestone species were found, including Orthotrichum cupulatum and Taxiphyllum wissgrillii. Mark Lawley’s discovery of Platydictya jungermannioides was the first record for Furness.

In the afternoon we went to Beech Hill Wood, a Woodland Trust property on the east side of Windermere Lake. Here we were followed for the first hour by a half-starved cat and its kitten. Henry Adams later took them back to the wood entrance where there was a half-used pack of sandwiches on the ground that he attributed to Keith from some previous visit.

The wood is on acid rock, with a small stream running through it giving some boggy areas. One wet area was most interesting with Hookeria lucens and Trichocolea tomentella. Nowellia curvifolia was also found on decorticated trunks in this wetland area and elsewhere in the wood. Whilst neither wood was exceptionally rich they did provide an interesting comparison between acid and limestone flora.


Tilberthwaite Ghyll and Wetherlam

The usual party was joined by Peter Harris, Jim Adams, Keith Raistrick, Dan Wrench, Vincent Jones and Robert Goodison (on his second day-trip from Bradford).

At Tilberthwaite Ghyll, north of Coniston, a swift-flowing river has cut a steep ravine, the entrance to which is very impressive, as is the rock scenery of the surrounding fells. The climb up necessitates crossing and re-crossing the river, but luckily for us the water level was very low and, unlike Barbondale, rocks in the stream are not slippery. The walls of the ghyll seem to be mainly of slate but there is a seepage from nearby limestone giving a mixture of calcicole and calcifuge bryophytes. At the top, the ghyll opens out onto bogs at the foot of Wetherlam.

On a previous visit by the local team Amphidium mougeotii was found fruiting accompanied by an abundance of Blindia acuta on a dripping rock buttress in the ghyll, but today, interestingly, Entosthodon attenuatus was found on this same buttress. Other interesting records included Bryum alpinum, Ditrichum gracile, Isopterygiopsis pulchella, Anoectangium aestivum, Mnium stellare, and Pellia endiviifolia with P. epiphylla growing very close by.

A reduced party of six (the others took an easier route back to the cars) spent the latter part of the day on Wetherlam bogs, where, much to the detriment of bryophyte recording, Mark spent some time extricating a stuck sheep. The main purpose of the climb out of the ghyll into this area was to refind Sphagnum affine, first found here by Henry Adams several years ago, but it was not seen today. However, Robert Blewitt, on another occasion, at a site lower down the ghyll, found what was thought to be S. austinii but was later determined by Mark Hill as S. affine. Other plants seen included Cladopodiella fluitans, Gymnocolea inflata and Kurzia pauciflora. On rocks in and beside a stream were Marsupella emarginata, Nardia compressa, Plagiochila killarniensis and P. spinulosa. Over 100 species were recorded during the day.



Heavy rain caused a barely perceptible reluctance of the small party to leave the cars at Blindbeck Bridge and follow Aygill Beck upstream as it passed over Silurian strata adjacent to the Dent Fault. Present were John Blackburn, Mark Lawley, Seán O’Leary, Dan Wrench, John Walters, Robert Blewitt, and a little later Henry Adams and Keith Raistrick.

The lower reaches of the beck proved rich in bryophytes and midges. Plagiochila spinulosa was present on a rock slab. Henry Adams found Sphagnum contortum in a marsh dominated by Juncus acutiflorus. S. girgensohnii and S. squarrosum were also present. After reaching the tetrad boundary the party returned to the car park for lunch on the bank of Barbon Beck, the rain having now ceased.

After lunch the party walked a short distance on the road back to Barbon before investigating the 30-40 ft deep, narrow, north-facing ravine on Barbon Low Fell, where Plagiochila killarniensis (first found here by Keith in 1998) was eagerly anticipated and duly demonstrated, together with its unique odour. Other species included Trichostomum brachydontium, Hookeria lucens, Pohlia nutans, Diphyscium foliosum and Metzgeria conjugata. Bazzania trilobata was present on a tree branch, but an impressive growth of the lichen Peltigera horizontalis on a sloping ash tree was scarcely noticed in the wealth of bryophytes. Wilson’s Filmy-fern Hymenophyllum wilsonii was also found.

The short walk across open fell back to the cars revealed the magnificent desolate and damp landscape of Barbondale which we had almost to ourselves even on a bank holiday weekend. Before exchanging farewells, members agreed that the Westmorland week had been most enjoyable.






The speaker’s experience of the Azores is based upon three visits to Terceira, the third largest of the nine islands in the mid-Atlantic archipelago. The islands are volcanic in origin and relatively young, varying from less than 1 million years (Pico) to about 8 million years (Santa Maria) in age. The larger islands are mountainous and attract constant cap clouds around their peaks. Botanically, they have two attractions: a strong element of endemic species and highly oceanic conditions. Earlier work by Dr Sérgio has shown affinities of the bryophyte flora with various regions, including Europe (especially the Mediterranean), Africa and North America, but also the southern Hemisphere, notably in the genus Echinodium (Australasia) and South American species, such as Jamesoniella rubricaulis. A number of the special Azorean taxa are shared with other Atlantic islands in the Macaronesian group (e.g. Andoa berthelotiana, Tetrastichium virens). The strongly oceanic environment is reflected in the abundance of Plagiochila killarniensis (P. bifaria), Myurium hochstetteri, Hypnum uncinulatum, Cyclodictyon laetevirens, Dicranum scottianum, Leptoscyphus cuneifolius, several Lejeunea spp, and the ferns Hymenophyllum tunbrigense and Trichomanes speciosum. The high endemism is at odds with the young geological ages of the islands, and it is likely that Azorean endemics (e.g. Bazzania azorica, Cheilolejeunea cedercreutzii, Herbertus azoricus, Leptoscyphus azoricus, Tylimanthus azoricus, Echinodium renauldii), and perhaps other Macaronesian endemics (e.g. Aphanolejeunea madeirensis, Heteroscyphus denticulatus, Alophosia azorica, Echinodium prolixum) were formerly more widespread, but eliminated from less favourable sites during the Pleistocene glaciations.

The archipelago shows a gradient of increasing precipitation from east to west. On the larger islands precipitation increases with altitude and is largely responsible for a marked altitudinal zonation of the vegetation. The coastal strip is warm and dry with a sub-tropical climate. This zone now supports most of the human population. Formerly, the tree heather Erica scoparia subsp. azorica was dominant here together with native woody species, such as Myrica faya, but the Australian tree Pittosporum undulatum was introduced and has naturalised everywhere at lower altitudes. Common Mediterranean bryophytes, such as Philonotis rigida, Anthoceros punctatus, Gongylanthus ericetorum and Targionia hypophylla, are frequent on banks along rides in coastal Pittosporum woodland. Above 500 m the climate deteriorates significantly and the native evergreen forest is dominated by Laurus azorica and Juniperus brevifolia. In the constantly humid interior of this virtually impenetrable growth are found most of the characteristic Azorean bryophytes, covering bark (e.g. Echinodium prolixum, Plagiochila killarniensis, Lepidozia cupressina, Myurium hochstetteri, Geocalyx graveolens, and the ferns Hymenophyllum tunbrigense and Elaphoglossum semicylindricum), soil (Bazzania azorica, Pallavicinia lyellii), and rock (Jubula hutchinsiae). Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia and Colura calyptrifolia are common epiphylls on Laurus. At the higher altitudes, as on the rim of the caldeira of the highest mountain Serra Santa Barbara, Juniperus becomes prevalent but this finally succumbs to vigorous hummocks of Sphagnum subnitens and S. palustre in some parts of the cloud zone. Leptoscyphus azoricus and Herbertus azoricus are most frequent on Juniperus bark at higher altitudes. Cheilolejeunea cedercreutzii is quite plentiful in the extensive Laurus-Juniperus forest inside Caldeira de Santa Barbara, a veritable bryologist’s paradise.

Regrettably, much of the native forest has been cleared to provide pastures (encouraged by EU subsidies) or to give way to forestry. Above and overlapping with the naturalised Pittosporum woods of the coastal zone is a belt of Eucalyptus globulosus plantation, while at higher altitudes there are shelterbelts and more extensive plantings of Cryptomeria japonica. A survey of epiphytes in these exotic forest types has provided some interesting preliminary findings. Pittosporum trunks support a sparse community in which Marchesinia mackaii, Frullania microphylla, Cololejeunea minutissima and Radula carringtonii are the main species, sometimes accompanied by the tiny Aphanolejeunea sintinisii. Tetrastichium virens and Sematophyllum substrumulosum are often present on moist tree bases. A similar community also occurs on Eucalyptus, although Heteroscyphus denticulatus is commoner here on moist trunk bases. A more acidophilous flora is present on Cryptomeria trunks, usually consisting of Dicranum scottianum, Campylopus spp, Hypnum spp, Plagiochila killarniensis, P. exigua, and occasionally Echinodium prolixum. Telaranea nematodes is often the dominant bryophyte at the trunk base. The results indicate that, although every effort should be made to conserve the remaining remnants of the native Azorean evergreen forest, the introduced trees provide a home for several interesting Azorean bryophytes and some examples are worthy of preservation for their bryological interest.


The Azores archipelago, part of the Macaronesia region, is well known for a rich and diverse flora of endemic and relict species. The present investigation was undertaken against the background of massive and rapid decline of the Azorean forest due to human activity.

Seasonal growth rates (elongation) were determined for seven bryophyte species: Andoa berthelotiana, Bazzania azorica, Echinodium prolixum, Fissidens serrulatus, Frullania tamarisci, Lepidozia cupressina and Myurium hochstetteri. The majority have highly oceanic distributions and some are endemic, but F. tamarisci was included due to its ubiquitous distribution. The monthly growth rates were measured over one year in three examples of natural forest growth, and correlations with climate and microclimate were investigated. All species showed similar growth patterns, with the majority of growth occurring during late summer and early autumn. Growth of all species was strongly related to temperature, particularly with microclimatic values. The seven species measured in the field, plus Porella canariensis, were investigated in laboratory conditions, characterising their physiological attributes, and monitoring growth under controlled situations of light and water availability. All species showed low compensation and low saturation points. The liverworts B. azorica and L. cupressina were shown to be very sensitive to experimental conditions, seldom exhibiting positive growth. The concentration of photosynthetic pigments generally revealed a decrease in total chlorophyll and an increase in the concentration of carotenoids under high light conditions, while water deficit promoted a decrease in chlorophyll. B. azorica and L. cupressina were transplanted outside the forest, and both species were greatly affected by the transplant. The results suggest that B. azorica is more sensitive to photooxidation, showing the highest concentrations of lipid peroxides and the lowest concentrations of photosynthetic pigments; both species were extremely sensitive to low relative humidity levels.


Plantlife - the Wild Plant Conservation Charity - is Britain’s only national membership charity dedicated to conserving all forms of plant life in their natural habitats. Plantlife act as lead partner for 17 bryophytes listed as priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, and manages recovery projects based in England for these species through its ‘Back from the Brink’ programme. ‘Back from the Brink’ aims to reverse the declines suffered by threatened wild plants, and involves a combination of laboratory and field research with liaison, lobbying and hands-on management.

David Holyoak has been working on Petalophyllum ralfsii on behalf of Plantlife since 1997. He has carried out a survey of all current and historic sites in England, which included the discovery of a new site in Northumberland. At each site, population size has been estimated, and detailed descriptions provided of the site conditions, the habitats in which Petalophyllum occurs, and associated species, all of which provide further insights into the species’ ecology. In addition, liaison has been ongoing with site managers and land-owners in order to secure sympathetic management for the species. A three-year population study has been carried out at one site - Upton Towans in Cornwall - which has provided a new insight into the life cycle of Petalophyllum, namely that at least some plants remain concealed beneath the ground during all months of the year. This means that it is possible that population estimates for P. ralfsii may be on the conservative side. Fred Rumsey (The Natural History Museum, London) has carried out research on the population genetics of P. ralfsii using allozyme analysis, which has demonstrated that there is no significant genetic variation either between or within populations throughout the British range of the species.

Lejeunea mandonii has an extremely limited GB distribution, being confined to just a few sites in western Scotland and on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall. It occurs in very small patches - in England the total area covered by the plant is less than one square metre. David Holyoak has been monitoring each English population since 1997 in order to gain an insight into the species’ dynamics. This has demonstrated that the populations appear to vary considerably from year to year, but the exact cause has not been established as yet. Securing favourable management for L. mandonii through liaison with site managers and land-owners is also important. This species seems to be exacting in its shade requirements - it cannot thrive in open sunlight, but dense canopies or adjacent scrub cast too much shade. A particular threat at its one open, coastal site is that of fire. There was a major heathland fire in the vicinity last year which fortunately missed the site, but it remains threatened since it is surrounded by dry and highly flammable gorse; the cutting of a firebreak is a priority.

Work is being commenced this year (2000) on seven other bryophyte species (Cryphaea lamyana, Riccia huebeneriana, Bryum warneum, Fissidens exiguus, Ephemerum stellatum, Sphagnum balticum and Tortula cernua), and there are plans to work on additional species during 2001. The initial stages of work on each species follow a similar basic pattern: a) collating all records, including an examination of herbarium material if necessary; b) carrying out a survey of current and historic sites, recording information on population size, habitat and threats; and c) producing a report including background information on the species and providing recommendations for future work. For example, Tom Blockeel is starting work in autumn 2000 on Tortula cernua - a species of Magnesian limestone spoil - which will involve a survey of recent and historic sites in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Cheshire.

Sphagnum balticum, a species of oligotrophic bogs, has an extremely limited distribution in Britain, with one confirmed extant site in Scotland and two recent sites in England. Earlier this year, Johnny Turner confirmed that the species is no longer present at Thorne Moors. A detailed search of the other English site, Muckle Moss in Northumberland, involving a group of experts, is planned for October 2000 (I can since report that the species was refound during this search - see p. 53 of this Bulletin).

This is inevitably just a brief summary of some of the work going on, but hopefully it illustrates that Plantlife are now very much involved in bryophyte conservation and looking forward to taking more species on the road to recovery. However, this work is not undertaken by Plantlife in isolation, but in partnership with Government agencies from throughout the UK, those who manage the sites on the ground, and the many individuals in the bryological community who make a valuable contribution to the work.

For copies of reports on the species mentioned above please contact Jenny Duckworth at: Plantlife, 21 Elizabeth Street, London, SW1W 9RP; e-mail:


A programme of work for the conservation of bryophytes north of the border was started in 1993 with survey work on lower plants commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and organised at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh by Brian Coppins and David Long. This was initially aimed at the Scottish species on the list of bryophytes that had just been added to Schedule 8 of the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. Schedule 8 designation has probably had little impact in terms of practical measures to ‘save’ bryophytes but it has worked wonders in raising their profile within the conservation agencies. I carried out a good deal of the fieldwork for this programme, working my way up a steep learning curve, so that some species were rather better dealt with than others. The information collected went towards the production of ‘species dossiers’; these have a Part 1 which deals with the generalities of the species and a Part 2 which has details on localities, populations and site visits. This programme of work was expanded in the following years to include a number of Red Data list species.

Several bryophyte species are listed on Annex II of the EC Habitats Directive, and Species Action Plans have been prepared for priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. In order to support the conservation of these species, projects on three taxa (Buxbaumia viridis, Petalophyllum ralfsii and Jamesoniella undulifolia) were carried out. Obtaining baseline data on the distribution and population size of these species, each occurring at a single site in Scotland, posed different problems in each case.

Petalophyllum ralfsii is locally abundant at its Wester Ross site and a count of thalli is not feasible. All areas of damp sand supporting Petalophyllum were flagged and photographed, and in each case rough estimates of the number of thalli were made (giving a total population in excess of 25,000 thalli). This method should enable gross changes in the population to be monitored, which is probably all that can be achieved with what is basically a weed species.

Most stands of Jamesoniella undulifolia occur on Sphagnum hummocks, so the best plan at its Argyll site seemed to be to mark its presence or absence on the numerous hummocks on the site. A grid was marked out and the co-ordinates of each hummock and the presence or absence of J. undulifolia was noted, along with a simple measure of abundance. This worked well, with J. undulifolia found on some 93 hummocks. The down-side of the method was that it left the site looking like a battlefield and any re-survey (due in 2001) will need to be selective to reduce this collateral damage.

Buxbaumia viridis is different again, being very specific in habitat but also very sparse and difficult to spot despite its relatively large size. Flagging and photographing each stand is the obvious technique and this works well despite the low light levels in the ravine in northern Scotland where it occurs. I visited the site every two months to get some idea of the phenology of the plant. This revealed a major problem for the species in that, in my survey, 62% of all capsules observed fail to survive to dehiscence with circumstantial evidence pointing to slugs as the culprits.

The increased profile of lower plants has meant that non-governmental organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) have taken more of an interest in the species which occur on the large tracts of ground that they manage. Recently, RSPB have funded a survey of the large population of Andreaea frigida on their reserve in the Loch Avon basin in the Cairngorms (see p. 58 of this Bulletin), and also more general surveys of other sites which have good populations of species such as Anastrophyllum saxicola, Cynodontium tenellum, Dicranum bergeri, Plagiochila atlantica and Orthotrichum speciosum.

The NTS has funded work to enable their site managers to become familiar with two species for which they have special responsibility: Bryoerythrophyllum caledonicum and Orthotrichum obtusifolium. Within the NTS reserve on Ben Lawers there is a large project on Meall nan Tarmachan to exclude grazing animals over all of Creag an Lochain and an area to the south of this, primarily to promote the development of willow scrub. NTS funded me to set up plots to monitor what happens to stands of some bryophyte species in places where the cessation of grazing may alter the habitat. The target species here included Hypnum bambergeri, H. vaucheri, Racomitrium himalayanum and Timmia norvegica.

However, the majority of work is still funded by SNH, with a survey programme managed by Stephen Ward in Edinburgh. They are paying me to provide baseline data on 27 species of bryophyte over the next two years (hard work I know, but someone has got to do it). These priority species range from relatively well-known rarities, such as Acrobolbus wilsonii and Lejeunea mandonii, to the more obscure Bryum uliginosum and Orthotrichum gymnostomum. The results so far have been mixed. Acrobolbus wilsonii seems secure, with some 27 widespread sites but is relatively frequent at only one locality. The situation with Lejeunea mandonii seems somewhat bizarre; despite much searching I could find it on only one tree in each of three ravines in Moidart and Skye. Bryum uliginosum and Orthotrichum gymnostomum remain inscrutable, although the search for the latter on aspens on Speyside revealed not only some superb woodland but also three new sites for Orthotrichum obtusifolium at Insh.

In general, conservation organisations north of the border have adopted a rather broader brush approach than those in England where the amount of money spent on just two species is probably more than that for the whole programme in Scotland. Though the work has revealed some specific problems, most populations of rare bryophytes seem relatively secure, provided that there is no marked change in habitat. It would seem sensible to try to establish ex situ cultures of species such as Orthodontium gracile and Orthotrichum obtusifolium, and to try to elucidate further the ecology of Buxbaumia viridis. However, it will come as no surprise if I suggest that the salvation of many of our rare species lies in the conservation of habitat rather than in measures targeted at individual species.


The author spent a week bryologising on the Greek island of Evvia from 26 February to 4 March 2000. Evvia is a long narrow island situated close to the eastern coast of Greece and connected to it by a bridge. From north to south it is more than 150 km long. The geology is varied, and includes exposures of serpentinite/peridotite, schist and limestone. An earlier paper by Fröhlich (1961) includes reports of Dumortiera hirsuta and Scapania gracilis, but these could not be confirmed during the author’s visit.

The central part of Evvia is mountainous, the summit of Mt Dirfis exceeding 1700 m. The higher ground is snow-covered in winter. The author’s visit coincided with a spell of cold weather, during which snow fell at low altitudes. This impeded bryological investigations in the mountains. The villages of Steni in the central mountains and Limni on the NW coast were used as bases for exploration.

Coastal habitats

Outcrops of serpentinite/peridotite occur on the coast near Limni. Rocky banks and gullies in this area contained a limited bryophyte flora, which included Gongylanthus ericetorum, Tortula atrovirens, T. canescens and an as yet unidentified Entosthodon. An Ophioglossum (presumably O. lusitanicum) also occurred in this area.

Near the Galataki Monastery, some gravelly flats with an open growth of Pinus halepensis and various shrubs had a more diverse flora, including Corsinia coriandrina, Oxymitra incrassata, Fossombronia echinata, Petalophyllum ralfsii, Cheilothela chloropus, Didymodon tophaceus and Funaria convexa.

North-western hills

North of Limni is a range of hills which rise to nearly 1000 m. Some deep valleys and ravines dissect these hills. At lower levels, there is Pinus halepensis woodland with xerophytic bryophytes including Pleurochaete squarrosa, Bryum canariense, Homalothecium aureum and Scorpiurium circinatum. Locally, there is an abundance of Southbya tophacea and Eucladium verticillatum on wet rocks. Ephemeral species observed on disturbed ground included Sphaerocarpos texanus, Pleuridium acuminatum, Acaulon mediterraneum and Entosthodon fascicularis.

A small copse of deciduous oaks in the foothills near Akhladi contained a number of familiar British bryophytes: Riccardia chamedryfolia, Lejeunea cavifolia, Didymodon sinuosus, Eurhynchium praelongum and E. pumilum.

With increasing altitude, Pinus halepensis gives way to the Greek Fir Abies cephalonica. At the Drimona cataracts calcareous rocks supported Seligeria acutifolia, Fabronia pusilla, Anomodon viticulosus and Eurhynchium striatulum, and on open slopes Mannia androgyna, Targionia hypophylla and Tortula wilsonii. Rocks in the stream had Didymodon luridus, Dialytrichia mucronata, Bryum gemmiparum and Orthotrichum cupulatum. The epiphytic flora was rich, particularly in sheltered spots, and included Frullania dilatata, Neckera pumila, N. complanata, Leptodon smithii, Habrodon perpusillus and Pterigynandrum filiforme.

Central mountains

The central mountains include large areas of schist and some limestone.

A deep valley near Pagondas in the foothills contained Pinus halepensis woodland, with Platanus orientalis bordering the streams. Cheilothela chloropus was on the ground, and Fossombronia husnotii, Grimmia laevigata and Bartramia stricta on and about lightly shaded rocks. Crags of more exposed rock supported Tortula cuneifolia, T. wilsonii, T. atrovirens and Grimmia tergestina.

The slopes of Mt Dirfis are clothed with beautiful forests of Abies cephalonica and Castanea sativa, mixed with Platanus orientalis. Signs of early spring included beds of the pink primrose Primula vulgaris subsp. sibthorpii and the Greek hellebore Helleborus cyclophyllus.

Stream banks in the valleys on schist supported a rich flora which included Leiocolea turbinata, Jungermannia atrovirens, Marsupella emarginata, Scapania compacta, Radula lindenbergiana, Lejeunea cavifolia, Pogonatum aloides, Bartramia pomiformis, Pterogonium gracile, Isothecium alopecuroides and Eurhynchium pumilum. One deep and rocky ravine had an interesting mixture of southern species (Cephaloziella turneri, Gongylanthus ericetorum, Homalia lusitanica) and others more familiar in northern Europe (Porella arboris-vitae, Frullania tamarisci, Bartramia pomiformis). Dicranum tauricum was found on old logs in some of the ravines. Mineral soil on banks had Pleuridium acuminatum, Pohlia annotina, and by forest roads Tortula cuneifolia, T. canescens, T. wilsonii and Epipterygium tozeri.

At higher altitudes (700-1000 m), where not still covered by snow, the more open forest and rocks produced Porella cordaeana, Polytrichum piliferum, Grimmia laevigata and Plagiomnium cuspidatum. Deeper forest had Polytrichum formosum, Plagiomnium affine and Scleropodium tourettii in the ground flora, and the epiphytes Frullania dilatata, Orthotrichum spp, Zygodon rupestris, Neckera pumila, Leucodon sciuroides, Pterigynandrum filiforme and Homalothecium sericeum. Of special interest was a large population of Zygodon forsteri growing in knotholes of Abies cephalonica, and more abundantly in the interior of old water-filled stumps where the heart-wood had rotted away.


Fröhlich J. 1961. Bryophyten. In: Rechinger KH, Die Flora von Euboea. Botanische Jahrbücher für Systematik, Pflanzengeschichte und Pflanzengeographie 80: 455-459.


On the Sunday of the AGM weekend, a large group descended on this ex-military airbase, just to the south of Newbury. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), designated in part for the large expanse (the most extensive in Berkshire) of Calluna vulgaris - Ulex minor heathland. After lunch, the uncharacteristically hot weather was seen as a good excuse to forsake the open heath for the relatively invigorating coolness of the wet alder gullies on the southern periphery of the site. The alder gullies have formed on clay pockets, with seepage zones and springs, and support Sphagnum carpets.

The heathland vegetation was maintained by decades of mowing when the military were managing the airbase, and hence scrub was kept at bay and the sub-shrub communities remained short with much open ground. As a result, this is probably the best heathland site for bryophytes in Berkshire. Prior to the BBS excursion, the total number of bryophytes recorded on the SSSI stood at 134 (although it is difficult to be certain whether some older records are located within the SSSI boundary).

Typical heathland plants seen were Polytrichum spp, Ceratodon purpureus, Dicranum scoparium, much Archidium alternifolium, some Lophozia bicrenata, Scapania compacta and Hypnum lacunosum var. tectorum. There is a curious mixture of calcicoles growing alongside the more normal calcifuge species of heathland; this is due to the large areas of concrete runways and taxiways having an effect on the adjacent heathland soils, and one finds Archidium alternifolium and Polytrichum piliferum intermixed with Encalypta streptocarpa, Aloina aloides and Trichostomum crispulum, the latter species now possibly gone from the chalk of the Berkshire Downs. Many people saw a strong population of Philonotis fontana around the margins of a wet depression; it was only recently discovered in small quantity on the dry heathland, and is probably the only extant site for it in Berkshire, so it was gratifying to find it in greater quantity. Climacium dendroides (a very rare plant in Berkshire) was also seen in a damp heathy depression.

Greenham is a stones throw from Ron Porley’s English Nature Office, and he has made many records, some new to the vice-county, from the heathland areas over the years. However, we managed to add 15 species previously unrecorded from the site, including Lophocolea semiteres (David Long) and Schistidium crassipilum (Nick Hodgetts), both new to VC 22. David’s discovery of Lophocolea semiteres on a sandy bank under birch is a further indication of the spread of this plant in Britain, although there is no way of knowing how long it has been at Greenham. The bank is probably no older than 50 years, and it should be possible to estimate its age more accurately by some research into land changes when in military ownership. There was some interesting discussion going back and forth between Herman Stieperaere and others as to whether it was indeed this species or L. heterophylla. Confirmation had to wait for microscopic study.

The best find of the day has to be Thuidium abietinum subsp. hystricosum, detected by Mark Pool, Ray Tangney and Neil Bell in an area of stony grassland. This probably represents its only extant site in VC 22; it was reported from Cookham Down pit (date unknown) but could not be re-found by Jeff Bates and Se< n O’Leary in 1994 (Bates, 1995), and has not been seen on Combe Hill since it was recorded there by E.W. Jones in 1947. Another very good find, Rhytidiadelphus loreus, was made by Angie Newton and Neil Bell in birch-oak woodland which fringes the heath. This moss of humid habitats is very sensitive to atmospheric pollution and has declined in many areas; it is very rare in Berkshire, known from just four 5-km squares (Bates, 1995), although it may well be a recent colonist following the amelioration of pollution levels. Amongst the other new site records were Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum, Didymodon tophaceus (both in the heathland), Plagiothecium latebricola (alder gullies), Orthotrichum pulchellum, Cryphaea heteromalla and Leskea polycarpa (in the marginal wooded areas). Five Sphagna were seen in the wet alder gully areas: S. flexuosum, S. squarrosum, S. capillifolium, S. palustre and S. subnitens.

Many thanks go to Mark Hampton, Greenham Common Ranger, for navigating us around this deceptively large site.


Bates JW. 1995. A bryophyte flora of Berkshire. Journal of Bryology 18: 503-620.



Bryological Workshop 2000, Imperial College at Silwood Park (near Ascot, Berkshire), 11-12 November

Local Secretary: Dr Jeffrey W. Bates, Department of Biology, Imperial College at Silwood Park, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 7PY; tel: 020 759 42228 (Silwood Park), 020 759 45397 (South Kensington); e-mail:

This year the subject of the workshop is 'Bryological Illustration'. The meeting is aimed at those who would like to make line drawings of bryophytes but do not know how to begin. Our esteemed member Mrs Jean A. Paton, author of The Liverwort Flora of the British Isles, has kindly agreed to run the workshop. To enable a good attendance the meeting will be limited to one day, although anyone staying overnight is welcome to join an informal excursion, probably to the famous gardens in Windsor Great Park, on Sunday 12 November.

Silwood Park is the rural campus of Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine, and houses among other things half of the College's biology staff in modern laboratories. There is a good range of habitats and an interesting bryophyte flora, and around the old Manor House some beautiful gardens. Specimens for illustration will be collected in the grounds. Microscopes (dissecting and compound) will be made available for participants and also, it is hoped, some camera lucida apparatus. The local secretary would be extremely grateful for the loan of any further sets for the meeting if participants or other BBS members have them available.

Accommodation for the meeting, if required, will be in local hotels and guesthouses. Silwood Park lies roughly midway between Virginia Water and Ascot on the A329 and is served by the M4 (Windsor junction), M3 (Bagshot junction) and (indirectly) M25 motorways. Please let the local secretary know if you wish to attend or need details of accommodation.


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