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Meetings of the BBS - 1996

Spring Field Meeting 1996

Dolgellau,Gwynedd, 10 - 17 April

Dolgellau was chosen as a meeting venue during the Society's centenary year as it was here in 1922 that members of the two sections of the Moss Exchange Club agreed to unite and form the British Bryological Society. The groundwork leading to the union had been prepared by Miss Eleonora Armitage on behalf of Section I (the 'experts') and by Mr Daniel A. Jones on behalf of Section II (the 'beginners') for 'the momentous event of 1922' (Armitage, 1944). In the event, some twelve members gathered on two occasions at the Grammar School in Dolgellau during a meeting in early August 1922. They resolved that the new BBS should come into being on 1 January 1923, with H.N. Dixon elected as President and D.A. Jones nominated as Secretary. A proposal to admit foreign members was carried unanimously. The annual subscription was set at five shillings.

Since 1922 the Society has grown and flourished (Richards, 1983), and the involvement of over 50 participants during the 1996 spring meeting, based at the Royal Ship Hotel in Dolgellau, is a testament of its continuing good health. Numbers joining the excursions varied from day to day, and were highest during the middle part of the meeting. Four honorary members of the Society, Dr M.C.F. Proctor, Dr A.J.E. Smith, Dr E.V. Watson and Dr H.L.K. Whitehouse, were present for all or part of the meeting. Most participants were from the British mainland, and it was also a pleasure to welcome Alain Vanderpoorten from Belgium.

All excursions during the main part of the meeting were in Merioneth (VC 48) where the bryophyte flora is extremely well recorded, mainly due to the work of two local experts (see Richards, 1979; Hill, 1988). D.A. Jones (1861-1936) of Harlech found many species new to Merioneth and north Wales, and bryological exploration has been continued more recently by Peter Benoit based in Barmouth. Peter was able to join the meeting for several excursions, and his detailed knowledge of the sites enabled us to see various interesting species which may otherwise have been overlooked.

Thursday, 11 April

Arthog Bog (SH 6314)
In the morning we visited Arthog Bog which is a small and rather degraded raised bog on the south side of the Mawddach estuary. The mire surface has been modified by drainage, burning and peat extraction, but the locality is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and management is being developed to restore more favourable bog conditions in co-operation with the owners. Despite the adverse human impact, there are several rare vascular plant species on the bog, including Hypericum undulatum which was noted by a drainage channel. It is less well known for its bryophytes, although there is a small population of Pallavicinia lyellii and Peter Benoit unearthed scattered thalli among litter around the base of Molinia tussocks in one part of the site. Several common bog Sphagnum spp. were examined, together with a variety of associated hepatics, including Cephalozia lunulifolia, Odontoschisma denudatum, O. sphagni, Mylia anomala and Riccardia latifrons. Splachnum ampullaceum was noted on decaying cow dung. Unfortunately we did not re-find Cephalozia leucantha, previously recorded here at one of its few Welsh localities.

Arthog Ravine (SH 6414)
The afternoon's excursion was to a nearby wooded ravine which is also a SSSI. The ravine is north-facing, and has a moderate Atlantic flora; substrata are mostly acidic but there are also base-rich outcrops and boulders, with overall a fairly rich bryophyte assemblage. The water level in the main stream was unusually low, so that rocks in and by the water course were relatively accessible. We were thus able to observe, at close quarters, the exceptional abundance of Jubula hutchinsiae in the Arthog ravine; rather than hiding under dripping rock overhangs, as at many of its north Wales localities, Jubula here forms large patches on relatively exposed rock surfaces and is locally frequent in a long section of the ravine. Alan Hale turned up a small quantity of Adelanthus decipiens, and Roy Perry found Lepidozia pearsonii. Other taxa recorded included Anastrepta orcadensis, Fissidens pusillus, Grimmia hartmanii and Hygrohypnum eugyrium. The ferns Dryopteris aemula and Hymenophyllum tunbrigense were also observed.

Friday, 12 April

Coed y Rhygen National Nature Reserve (SH 6836)
A much larger group assembled at Coed y Rhygen where we were greeted by the NNR warden, Doug Oliver. The reserve is a rocky north-facing oakwood on the west side of Llyn Trawsfynydd reservoir. It has one of the most impressive Atlantic woodland bryofloras in southern Britain, yet this was not appreciated until 1964 when it was visited by Derek Ratcliffe. Not only is there a long list of oceanic taxa, including several rarities, but certain species such as Adelanthus decipiens, Bazzania trilobata, Lepidozia cupressina and Plagiochila punctata grow luxuriantly and in considerable abundance. One of the advantages of visiting Coed y Rhygen on a wet day, as we did, is that members of the Atlantic community appear at their best: fully turgid and relishing the mild and moist conditions. A good species list was compiled, including Dicranodontium denudatum, Dicranum fuscescens, D. scottianum, Hylocomium umbratum, Jamesoniella autumnalis, Plagiochila killarniensis and Plagiothecium laetum. Weatherwise, it was not a good day to search for very small plants, although Peter Benoit located a little Sematophyllum demissum on sheltered rocks and Marcus Yeo found patches of Leptoscyphus cuneifolius on an oak tree. The latter is here at one of its two known sites in Wales, as is Plagiochila atlantica, several good patches of which were found by Peter Martin on steep rock faces in one part of the woodland after much searching by various members of the party.

On our way back to Dolgellau, some of the group visited a flush complex on a hillside to the east of Pont y Grible, south of Trawsfynydd, at SH 7030. Various people had expressed a wish to see Sphagnum imbricatum ssp. affine and Peter Benoit was able to relocate several patches growing in a wet acid flush by the roadside. Peter Martin recorded S. platyphyllum by the side of a ditch.

When the organisers returned Peter Benoit home at the end of the day he kindly showed us two Barmouth specialities, Campylopus polytrichoides and Riccia nigrella. The Riccia has persisted in Barmouth since it was first recorded, new to Britain, by J. Ralfs in 1843.

Saturday 13 April

Morfa Dyffryn National Nature Reserve (SH 5525)
Morfa Dyffryn and Morfa Harlech are a pair of extensive sand dune systems situated near Harlech. Both are NNRs and Morfa Dyffryn, which we visited, is the more southerly of the two. There is a good list of specialist dune slack bryophytes, with several rarities, recorded from Morfa Dyffryn, but the slacks we visited were a little disappointing and among the species we did not re-find are Amblyodon dealbatus, various uncommon Bryum spp., Moerckia hibernica and Riccia cavernosa. The best open slacks were rather dry and this may account in part for a poor showing among the mosses and liverworts. Nevertheless, Petalophyllum ralfsii was seen in a number of slacks, but always in small quantity and with a rather scattered distribution. Among additional species recorded were Bryum dunense, Homalothecium lutescens and Tortella flavovirens. Extensive stands of pleurocarps were examined and debated in two large slack complexes; Michael Proctor identified Drepanocladus sendtneri and Scorpidium cossonii, and other species recorded include Calliergon cuspidatum, Campylium elodes and Cratoneuron filicinum.

Figra Mine (SH 6619)
In the afternoon, various small groups visited Figra Mine on the hillside above Bontddu on the north side of the Mawddach estuary. It is an old disused copper mine and the probable locality for Cephaloziella nicholsonii collected by D.A. Jones in 1923. C. nicholsonii was unfortunately not re-found, but patches of C. massalongi were seen on damp rocks near the entrance to the old mine workings and elsewhere by Jonathan Sleath and others. There were also some fine patches of C. stellulifera on stony metalliferous soil. A large population of Leucobryum glaucum with many cushions bearing sporophytes was admired in an oakwood below the mine. A few small patches of Grimmia arenaria were spotted on a wall by the footpath leading to the mine.

Other localities
A few participants visited Llanelltyd Bridge (SH 7119) later in the day to pay their respects and photograph the well-known population of Grimmia arenaria. A separate small group visited Coed Ganllwyd NNR (SH 7224) to admire the relatively large colonies of Sematophyllum demissum which persist here; Campylopus setifolius, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia and Sphagnum imbricatum ssp. affine were additional attractions. Another splinter group went to Coed Crafnant, a North Wales Wildlife Trust Reserve in the Artro valley (SH 6128), and recorded Leucobryum juniperoideum and Tritomaria exsecta among a range of commoner woodland species. All of these localities were also visited by small parties on other days of the meeting.

Sunday, 14 April

Cwm Cywarch (SH 8419)
A large party set off in the morning in several cars for Cwm Cywarch in the Aran mountains. The weather was wet and quite cold which was a pity as this was the highest altitude locality (reaching about 700m) of the meeting. The objective was to work the extensive cliffs and crags in Cwm Cywarch. The majority of the group visited the northern part of the cwm, recording on stream-side rocks and higher ground at Creigiau Camddwr. A good range of the more common bryophytes found on acid rocks in the uplands of north Wales was examined, including frequent Gymnomitrion crenulatum and G. obtusum, together with Andreaea alpina, Dryptodon patens, Marsupella sprucei and a number of Racomitrium taxa. Species recorded on base-rich rocks include Anoectangium aestivum, Grimmia funalis, Isothecium myosuroides var. brachythecioides and Schistidium strictum. A smaller and more energetic group covered a large area of Craig Cywarch, and made a more impressive list, including Barbula ferruginascens, Grimmia torquata, Hedwigia integrifolia, Rhabdoweisia crenulata and Tetraplodon mnioides.

Torrent Walk (SH 7518)
Some of the party left Cwm Cywarch early and visited Torrent Walk, a well-known wooded ravine to the east of Dolgellau. A good list of woodland bryophytes was recorded, but Rhytidiadelphus subpinnatus (which has been seen here in recent years) was not re-found. On a separate visit to Torrent Walk earlier in the week, Nick Hodgetts and Ron Porley found Radula voluta.

Monday 15 April

Cwm Bychan (SH 6431) and the Roman Steps (SH 6530)
Situated at the head of the heavily wooded Artro valley, Cwm Bychan has a stand of oak-birch woodland through which a path leads to the Roman Steps (Bwlch Tyddiad) and the heather-clad Rhinog hills. The area is characterised by wild and rugged scenery and is reminiscent of hill country in western Scotland. The weather was mild with periodic light drizzle, and we followed the path out of the car park, soon noting Dicranodontium denudatum and Hylocomium umbratum in the woodland and Sphagnum molle in damp grassland. Most of the day was spent investigating the rocks and humid heathy vegetation by the Roman Steps in the Rhinog National Nature Reserve. Here a distinctive leggy heath community has developed over steep boulder-strewn ground, with a luxuriant bryophyte layer in which Sphagnum capillifolium, S. quinquefarium and other Sphagnum spp. are extensive. Bazzania tricrenata and Herbertus aduncus were both frequent, and other Atlantic hepatics observed include Anastrepta orcadensis and Lepidozia pearsonii (with bulbils); a few patches of Ptilium crista-castrensis were also admired. This is the only British locality for Gymnocolea acutiloba which was first detected here by D.A. Jones in 1911. It has often been re-found, and after our group had seen the first signs of Gymnocolea at lunch time, several good patches of G. acutiloba were observed on sheltered surfaces of boulders in NE-facing block scree. Other notable plants recorded in the rich welter of bryophytes included Anastrophyllum minutum, Campylopus setifolius, Grimmia torquata and Hypnum callichroum. When setting out for the Roman Steps, we had hopes but no great expectations of re-finding Glyphomitrium daviesii, Lophozia longidens, Sphagnum strictum or perhaps even Bartramidula wilsonii; sadly we had no success. However, our efforts were rewarded by the discovery of Campylopus brevipilus on slabby SE-facing outcrops. This species is surprisingly rare in north Wales and had not been recorded in Merioneth for over 90 years.

Before returning to Dolgellau, the organisers took Cliff Townsend to try to relocate Amblystegium saxatile at its second British locality in Cwmnantcol. The old peat cutting in which A. saxatile had been seen in 1987 was overgrown and now much wetter, and despite rooting around in litter at the base of Molinia tussocks, we were unable to re-find this rare and elusive moss. Material which looked promising when viewed through a rain-soaked hand-lens in the field proved to be either A. riparium or Campylium stellatum upon microscopic examination.

Tuesday, 16 April

Hermon Copper Bog (SH 7425)
In the morning of the final day of the meeting a small remnant group visited Hermon Copper Bog which is a SSSI situated within the extensive Coed y Brenin conifer plantations. We were introduced to the site by Martin Garnett of Forestry Enterprise who gave an account of the highly unusual copper-enriched peat which in the past had been exploited to obtain copper. Higher plant metallophytes are represented by Cu-tolerant forms of Armeria maritima, Minuartia verna and Silene maritima. Specialist bryophytes are restricted to Cephaloziella massalongi which was seen in several places, characteristically on steep, moist soil banks, shaded by overhanging soil slumps, by the outflow stream running through the bog. The mire flora was also examined, and the bog surface has some large Sphagnum tussocks (mostly S. capillifolium and S. papillosum), with associated Cephalozia connivens, Kurzia pauciflora, Odontoschisma sphagni, Riccardia latifrons and several other bog liverworts. In a flushed zone, there were some nice patches of Sphagnum teres, which had not been recorded elsewhere during the meeting.

Craig y Benglog (SH 8023)
The final excursion was to the lightly wooded scree and crags of Craig y Benglog, which is part of a SSSI situated to the north of Rhydymain. The site is south-east facing, with variable shade from patchy oak-ash woodland, and there is some base-rich rock. The latter have extensive patches of Neckera crispa (in some cases with sporophytes), Pterogonium gracile, Tortella tortuosa and other calcicoles. Additional species recorded include Barbilophozia barbata, Frullania fragilifolia (on a tree trunk), Grimmia hartmanii and Plagiochila spinulosa. There were several large patches of Antitrichia curtipendula on rocks in the scree below the crags. It was a nice mixed site at which to conclude the spring meeting.

Uwch-y-coed (SN 8294)
After leaving the group before lunch, Ron Porley and Peter Martin drove south and stopped briefly at Uwch-y-coed, an impressive gorge near Machynlleth in Montgomeryshire (VC 47). Grimmia atrata grows in fair quantity on copper-rich rocks at this locality, and Coscinodon cribrosus, Ditrichum zonatum var. scabrifolium and Oedipodium griffithianum were also recorded.


We thank Peter Benoit for freely sharing his detailed bryological knowledge of the sites he visited with us during the meeting. We are also indebted for the help provided behind the scenes by our colleagues Fiona Evans, Annie Seddon, Doug Oliver, Rhodri Evans and Jonathan Neale in making access arrangements. Many landowners readily granted permission for the BBS to visit their property. Jean Paton kindly examined and confirmed material of Cephaloziella massalongi from Figra Mine and Hermon Copper Bog.


Armitage E. 1944. A short account of the Moss Exchange Club and the British Bryological Society. Berwick.
Hill MO. 1988. A bryophyte flora of North Wales. Journal of Bryology 15: 377-491.
Richards PW. 1979. A note on the bryological exploration of North Wales. Pp. 1-9 in: Clarke GCS, Duckett JG, eds. Bryophyte systematics. London: Academic Press.
Richards PW. 1983. The British Bryological Society 1923-1983. Cardiff: British Bryological Society.



BBS Centenary Symposium 1996

University of Glasgow, 4-8 August. Bryology for the Second Century

Local Secretary: Dr J.H. Dickson, Department of Botany, The University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ. Tel.: 0141 339 8855, Fax 0141 330 4447.

The programme of papers is as follows:

Sunday 4 August, 1400 to 1800 hrs, registration at Queen Margaret Hall, Bellshaugh Road, Kirklee, Glasgow G12 0SQ. Tel. 0141 334 2192 /3 /4; Fax. 0141 339 2883. (Registration on subsequent days at Boyd-Orr Building, University Avenue.)

Monday 5 August, 0900 to 1700 hrs. Symposium (Lecture Theatre 2, Boyd-Orr Building)
09.00 Welcome and Introduction by A.R. Perry, President of the Society.
09.15 D. Edwards (Cardiff, UK): 'Origins of land plants: the palaeobotanical perspective.'
09.45 T.A. Hedderson (Reading, UK): 'Origins of land plants: new evidence from molecular biology.'
10.15 K.S. Renzaglia (Johnson City, Tennessee, USA) & D. Garbary (Nova Scotia, Canada): 'Phylogenetic analyses of bryophytes and their relationships with other plants.'
10.45 Coffee
11.15 M. Bopp & E. Capesius (Heidelberg, Germany): 'The molecular approach to bryophyte systematics.'
11.45 H. Bischler-Causse (Paris, France): 'Molecular taxonomy of liverworts.'
12.15 D. Long (Edinburgh, UK): 'Asterella: taxonomy on a global scale.'
12.45 Lunch
14.00 J.H. Dickson (Glasgow, UK): 'New discoveries of sub-fossil bryophytes especially concerning the Tyrolean Iceman.'
14.30 D.H. Vitt (Edmonton, Canada): 'Taxonomy of mosses: relationships of the major groups.'
15.00 Tea 15.30 L. Hedenäs (Stockholm, Sweden): 'Cladistic analysis of pleurocarpous mosses.'
16.00 B. Goffinet (Edmonton, Canada): 'Molecular phylogeny of the Orthotrichales.'
16.30 Concluding remarks.

Tuesday, 6 August, 0900 to 1800 hrs. Symposium continued (Lecture Theatre 2, Boyd-Orr Building)

09.00 N.W. Ashton (Regina, Canada): 'Physcomitrella and the mode of action of auxin.'
09.30 T. Wang (Norwich, UK) & D.J. Cove (Leeds, UK): 'Molecular development of Physcomitrella (the Leeds 'Euromoss Project').'
10.00 J.G. Duckett (London, UK): 'Protonemal morphogenesis.'
10.30 Coffee
11.00 P. Apostolakos (Athens, Greece): 'Microtubules and morphogenesis in liverworts.'
11.30 K.C. Vaughn (Mississippi, USA) & J. Hasegawa (Kyoto, Japan): 'Cytoskeletal proteins of bryophytes and the systematic position of the hornworts.'
12.00 R. Ligrone (Caserta, Italy): 'Conducting tissues in bryophytes.'
12.30 Lunch
14.00 F. Sack (Ohio, USA): 'Gravitropism in bryophytes.'
14.30 J.G. Duckett (London, UK): 'The life and work of P.W. Richards.'
15.00 Poster session
18.30 Buses depart from Queen Margaret Hall for Civic Reception at City Chambers, George Square, Glasgow. The reception is a dinner. Dress: informal, national dress if possible.

Wednesday, 7 August, 0900 to 1730 hrs. Symposium continued (Lecture Theatre 2, Boyd-Orr Building)

09.00 J.A. Raven (Dundee, UK) & H. Griffiths (Newcastle, UK): 'New perspectives in the biophysics and physiology of bryophytes.'
09.30 H.J.B. Birks, E. Heegaard & B. Jonsgard (Bergen, Norway): 'Quantifying bryophytes – environmental relationships.'
10.00 J. Martinez-Abaigar & E. Nuñez-Olivera (La Rioja, Spain): 'Ecophysiology of pigments in aquatic bryophytes.'
10.30 Coffee
11.00 J.A. Lee (Sheffield, UK): 'Nitrogen and ozone pollution.'
11.30 J. Silvola, H. Vansander & J. Jauhiainen (Joensuu, Finland): 'Effects of elevated nitrogen and carbon dioxide.'
12.00 R.S. Clymo (London, UK): 'Sphagnum, the peatland carbon economy and climatic change.'
12.30 Lunch
14.00 G. Hendry (Sheffield, UK): 'The biochemistry of desiccation tolerance.'
14.30 J.W. Bates & S. Bakken (London, UK): 'Nutrient retention, desiccation and recycling.'
15.00 J. Shaw (Ithaca, USA): 'Hybridization in mosses.'
15.30 Tea 16.00 R.E. Longton (Reading, UK): 'Advances in population biology.'
16.30 L. Söderström (Trondheim, Norway) & T. Herben (Pruhonice, Czech Republic): 'Modelling the dynamics of bryophyte populations.'
17.00 Concluding remarks

Thursday 8th. Departure.

Participation. The Society looks forward to the participation of bryologists from throughout the world in its Centenary Symposium, and its Summer Field Meeting which will follow immediately afterwards.


Summer Field Meeting 1996 (I)

Ballachulish, Argyll, 10-17 August

Participants: Gordon Rothero (local secretary), Jeff Bates, John Blackburn, Agneta Burton, Blanka Buryová, Alison & Kevin Downing, Jeff Duckett, Bob Finch, Henk Greven, Roger Kemp, Niels Klazenga, Catherine LaFarge-England, Frank Lammiman, Brian O'Shea, Jean Paton, Mark Pool, Ron Porley, Christine Rieser, Anton Russell, David Rycroft, Tony Smith, Phil Stanley, Herman Stieperare, Alain Vanderpoorten, Harold Whitehouse.

With the field meeting following on from the Glasgow Symposium it was to be expected that numbers would be higher than normal but it is still pleasing that so many ventured north. On a couple of days we had 22 people in the field on one site, an unprecedented number in Scotland in recent years. Many of the group arrived in Glencoe in a downpour during Saturday but were rewarded by a dramatic clearance in the evening and, unbelievably, this settled weather remained with us until the final damp day. Most of the party that I was expecting (and even some that I was not expecting), met informally in the Glencoe Hotel on Saturday evening and the Hotel proved a reasonable base in the evenings for the rest of the week. All of the schedules excursions were in Main Argyll (VC 98) with the exception of the visit to Loch Sunart which is in Westerness (VC 97).

Sunday, 11 August

Coire Gabhail, 'the Lost Valley', NN/168557, etc.
The wooded ravine that provides access to the 'lost valley' gives way to a jumble of huge boulders, also wooded, through which it is possible to scramble. This habitat has many of the common woodland species but also good populations of some plants normally considered to be more montane. Particularly notable throughout the ravine is the abundance of Leptoscyphus cuneifolius on both rocks and trees but, apart from small stands of Aphanolejeunea microscopica and the common epiphyte Lejeunea ulicina, many of the less common oceanic Lejeuneaceae are absent. The community of oceanic-montane liverworts normally associated with dwarf shrub heath over block scree, here descends into the woodland. Mylia taylori, Pleurozia purpurea and Bazzania tricrenata are common throughout and on the best ledges are joined by Scapania ornithopodioides, Mastigophora woodsii, Bazzania pearsonii and rarely Plagiochila carringtonii. Other plants of interest seen in this area were Dicranodontium uncinatum, Kiaeria blyttii (abundant), Sphenolobopsis pearsonii and Antitrichia curtipendula festooning several trees. We had lunch in hot sunshine at the top of the ravine, looking across at the (noisy) rock climbers on the east face of Gearr Aonach. The open, south-facing rocks opposite the lunch spot have an interesting flora including both the frequent Racomitrium ellipticum and the much rarer Glyphomitrium daviesii, the superficially similar capsule shape making for some confusion!

For some this was montane enough but the bulk of the party headed off up the path, making for areas of scree in the upper coire which holds snow late into the year. The walk proved very warm and enthusiasm for the upper screes waned in most and gradually interest was taken in lower rocky gullies until only Jeff Bates, Jeff Duckett and Anton could be glimpsed distantly, heading for the heights. In flushes close to the path Blanka found Philonotis seriata but generally the bryophytes on the ascent were rather dull. The screes proved interesting with good populations of both Scapania nimbosa and Anastrophyllum donianum in the interstices of the scree, and Oedipodium griffithianum, Marsupella alpina, M. adusta and M. stableri on the surfaces of the larger blocks and low crags. Leaving the two Jeffs to be looked after by Anton, the rest of the party ambled back down the path, revisiting some species in the ravine for those who had missed them on the ascent.

Monday, 12 August

Bidean nam Bian, NN/141544, etc.
The crags and gullies at the top of the north-east coire of Bidean are well-known for their rich bryoflora and this area was our target. To reach the best ground involves a steep and unrelenting ascent which left little time for bryologising until lunch was taken on the terrace below the final screes and crags. The flushes in amongst the boulders were quite productive with good populations of Pohlia wahlenbergii var. glacialis, Philonotis seriata, Bryum weigelii and Rhizomnium magnifolium. On the rocks Kiaeria falcata and K. blyttii are common and there are scattered stands of Arctoa fulvella. There is a large area of interesting ground here with only time to cover a small part; the area we chose was the easy angled gully that leads up to the bealach between Bidean and Stob Coire nam Beith. This has some basic rocks on the north-facing retaining wall and also holds snow into the summer. In the scree Scapania nimbosa and Anastrophyllum donianum are quite frequent and in the upper basin where snow lies very late there are good stands of both Brachythecium glaciale and Lescuraea patens. On the finer gravels at the margin of the scree there are large stands of Pohlia ludwigii but Kiaeria starkei is surprisingly infrequent. The base status of the rocks was quickly indicated by stands of Orthothecium rufescens and the occasional rosette of Saxifraga nivalis; other species of interest here include Isopterygiopsis muelleriana, Leiocolea heterocolpos and Aulacomnium turgidum. In the upper basin, below what climbers call Hourglass Gully is another rich area with both Saxifraga rivularis and S. cernua and Jeff Duckett and Alain found stands of Marsupella boeckii, Timmia norvegica, Cirriphyllum cirrosum and Andreaea nivalis.

A large sub-group, not relishing the ascent to Bidean, and with an interest in things Grimmia, undertook the long and tortuous drive down the west coast to Loch Melfort, south of Oban. Here the target was Grimmia tergestina on Creag an Sturra, originally recorded here as both G. anodon and G. laevigata until sorted out by Henk Greven. The quest was successful and, what is more, the plant was found with sporophytes for the first time in Britain.

Tuesday, 13 August

Coille Mheadonach and Glas Drum National Nature Reserve
I had particularly wanted to show the overseas bryologists a good example of a wooded ravine with a diverse oceanic liverwort flora. Many ravines are awkward places for a large group but a brief visit to the Allt a'Mhuillinn in Coille Mheadonach by Loch Creran suggested that it might be suitable. In fact the burn was excellent, with easy access to the boulders which had good populations of interesting bryophytes (and no midges). Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Harpalejeunea ovata and Aphanolejeunea microscopica were frequent on most of the large blocks away from the main stream and in more regularly irrigated spots Lejeunea patens (abundant) and L. lamacerina occurred. A number of sheltered, steep rock faces in the burn had stands of Plagiochila exigua but more unexpected was the frequency of Radula voluta, much more common here than the more usual R. aquilegia. Also frequent on the upper surfaces of the rocks was Grimmia hartmanii; the gemmae on the upper leaves were visible on most stands but this is not usually the case in ravines and I suspect that the plant is often overlooked. Away from the burn, Jeff Duckett unearthed Cryptothallus mirabilis and a few trees and rocks had cushions of Plagiochila atlantica.

After a convivial lunch (still no midges) we moved closer to the head of the loch, to Glas Drum NNR. Ben Averis has recorded all the British species of Plagiochila here but on our brief visit the dense undergrowth and the lack of variety in the bryoflora did not compare well with Coille Mheadonach. Interesting finds included Gymnostomum viride on rocks in the woodland and a good population of Cryphaea heteromalla high up on elders in the lane.

Wednesday, 14 August

Beinn an Dothaidh NN/32-41-
Beinn an Dothaidh has relatively easy access from the north and a scattering of outcrops of calcareous schist as well as some small snow beds. There are a lot of interesting species recorded from this rich hill but the primary targets for the day were Bryoerythrophyllum caledonicum and Odontoschisma macounii. I thought that I could remember where I had seen both these species but inevitably it was all different on the day. Still, the initial outcrops of basic rocks produced some montane calcicoles like Eremonotus myriocarpus, Schistidium strictum and Myurella julacea on ledges and good stands of Odontoschisma elongatum and Calliergon trifarium in peaty flushes. After lunch we scrambled up to a wet crag which proved interesting with nice stands of the rare fern Cystopteris montana and on a flushed rock slab a good population of Hygrohypnum smithii, a new record for Argyll.

Part of the group pressed on towards the summit to visit the small snow-bed areas at the head of some gullies. The fell-field was interesting with open patches giving stands of Marsupella brevissima, Nardia breidleri and Ditrichum zonatum. The best snow-bed was dominated by stands of Kiaeria falcata and K. starkei but also had large patches of Moerckia blyttii and stands of Pleurocladula albescens. On the bealach between Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Achaladair, an area of flushed grassland has a small population of Oncophorus wahlenbergii. Despite the fairly late hour some members of the party were keen to see the fern Woodsia alpina which occurs on the west slope of Beinn Achaladair so we made our way north along the slope maintaining height. The rock in the vicinity of the fern proved very calcareous with a number of interesting bryophytes. Bryoerythrophyllum caledonicum turned up at last and there were scattered small stands of Hypnum bambergeri, and an excellent population of Scapania gymnostomophila, another new record for Argyll. On isolated boulders below this crag there was frequent Pterigynandrum filiforme and patches of Racomitrium himalayanum.

Thursday, 15 August

Loch Sunart: Ariundle National Nature Reserve, NM/83-64- and Laudale, NM/76-59- (VC 97)
The proximity of the Corran ferry and the good road to Strontian makes a visit to the Sunart area very straightforward from Glencoe. The rocky oakwood at Ariundle is an attractive place with an impressive biomass of bryophytes. Pride of place goes to Plagiochila atlantica which in the best part of the woodland occurs in vast abundance on almost every rock and tree base. There is also a good population of Adelanthus decipiens here, but this was looking much the worse for wear after what has (for the west coast) been a fairly dry 18 months. The southerly aspect and the open nature of the woodland means that other oceanic bryophytes are rather restricted and the ravine we visited was poor in comparison with Glen Creran.

At Laudale there are several small north-facing ravines which cut down through some fairly moribund-looking birch woodland. Despite appearances these are very rich and with the different aspect and rock type give a different flora to Glen Creran. The small Lejeuneaceae are again frequent on the faces of boulders in the burn and in one place here they were accompanied by Colura calyptrifolia and Acrobolbus wilsonii. Alain Vanderpoorten soon found Sematophyllum micans and this proved to be frequent in the middle and upper part of the ravine. Other plants of interest included Lepidozia pearsonii, Metzgeria leptoneura and Radula aquilegia.

Friday, 16 August

Meall Mor, NN/11-56-
Meall Mor is a lumpish hill compared with the spectacular peaks further up Glencoe but it has the virtue of an east-facing slope that is composed of metamorphosed limestone with a number of interesting plants. The fine weather had departed and the hill was misty and moist when we set out. The lower crags have plenty of interest with a good collection of the more common calcicoles and including some stands of Orthothecium rufescens with sporophytes and at least one stand of Gymnostomum insigne. The ground steepened markedly above this but an open gully gives access to the upper slopes but it was slow progress. Gymnostomum viride proved quite frequent and there were also stands of Schistidium strictum, Barbula reflexa, Grimmia funalis, G. torquata and a tiny patch of Bryum dixonii.

After lunch we approached the upper band of crags and climbed steeply out onto the upper slopes observing good stands of Hypnum hamulosum on the way. Here there was some debate about the most promising ground and the party divided, the larger group going on towards the western coire, a smaller group heading south across the slope and two ploughing lonely furrows elsewhere. The ground to the west soon proved dull and so the main party returned to the east face to work the top crags there. At this point the cloud came down with a vengeance leaving both an irrevocably split party and a somewhat worried leader. The upper crags and the flushed grassland between and below them have a good bryophyte flora and some rarities including a little Hypnum bambergeri, Tritomaria polita and some good stands of Barbilophozia quadriloba. The descent through the cloud was steep but uneventful and it was with some relief that, with normal visibility restored, I could see the fragments of the party coalescing!

My thanks go to the various estates which allowed access and particularly to the National Trust for Scotland on whose ground we were on half the days and whose staff joined us on Bidean nam Bian. My thanks also to the rest of the group for making my task as 'leader' relatively simple and enjoyable.



Summer Field Meeting 1996 (II)

Braemar, Kincardine & Deeside, 17-24 August

Saturday, 17 August

Loch Morlich, Inverness-shire, VC. 96, 28/90
Nine members met at Loch Morlich on their way from Glencoe to Braemar to search for Lophozia longiflora on rotting logs in what appears to be its only British locality: see Long (1996) under L. guttulata. Liverworts seen near the south shore of the loch included Kurzia sylvatica, Cephalozia pleniceps, Cephaloziella hampeana and Tritomaria exsectiformis, all new to the 10 km square or, at least, not seen recently, but L. longiflora was not re-found.

A reduced party compared with Glencoe met at Braemar: Agneta Burton, Alain Vanderpoorten from Belgium, Blanka Buryová from Prague, David Rycroft, Harold Whitehouse, Herman Stieperaere from Belgium, Jean Paton, John Blackburn, Mark Pool, Robert Finch and Ron Porley, but with the welcome addition of Noel Pritchard, Rod and Vanessa Stern and Tom Blockeel. Later in the week, we were joined by Roger Kemp for one day and by David Long and Sonam Wangchuk from Bhutan for two days. On the 20th, Alain and Robert departed, but Nick Hodgetts joined us.

Sunday, 18 August

Morrone Birkwood, Aberdeenshire, VC. 92, 37/19
Cars were parked near the duck-pond just west of Braemar. On calcareous crags, Ron found Stegonia latifolia at 480 m altitude, and Tom found Trichostomum crispulum*, Racomitrium canescens s. s. and Orthotrichum anomalum. Much of the woodland has been fenced to prevent grazing by deer, particularly of the juniper. Management of the National Nature Reserve requires a balance to be struck between over-grazing on the one hand and birch invasion of the open flush areas of the wood on the other. In a flushed area, Sphagnum warnstorfii and Scorpidium scorpioides were seen, and Tom found Plagiomnium elatum in another. Lophozia longidens was found on juniper stems, and a hypnaceous moss on an isolated rock. This plant was at first thought to be Hypnum hamulosum, but proved to be Ctenidium molluscum.

Morrone, VC. 92, 37/18
The higher parts of this hill have an acid substrate, where Ron found Grimmia donniana and G. incurva on rocks, Blanka found Harpanthus flotovianus in a basic flush and Jean found Cephalozia leucantha and Scapania irrigua on damp ground. On wet peaty soil in a seepage area, Tom found Moerckia hibernica, John found Dicranella cerviculata and Agneta found Kurzia trichoclados with its characteristic bulbils. There was abundant Tetralophozia setiformis on an exposed rocky ridge below the summit, mixed with Anastrophyllum minutum. Bryum weigelii was seen in a streamlet lower down. About 130 species of bryophytes were recorded during the day.

Monday, 19 August

The Cairnwell, west side, Perthshire, VC. 89, to Loch Vrotachan, Aberdeenshire, VC. 92, 37/17
Three members visited this hill, which was mist-covered. They took the chair-lift up to gain altitude. Ron found Scapania gymnostomophila on earthy ledges of base-rich rock outcrops at 800 m altitude in VC 89, growing with a curious form of Dichodontium pellucidum, Fissidens cristatus and Thuidium abietinum ssp. abietinum. Other interesting finds in a series of flushes down the slope draining into Loch Vrotachan, VC 92, included Tritomaria polita, Oncophorus virens, Pohlia wahlenbergii var. glacialis, Meesia uliginosa and Cratoneuron decipiens, the latter two found by Mark. Sphagnum russowii was also seen. The margin of the loch had much Pohlia drummondii on a gravelly substrate. New for the 10 km square were Polytrichum formosum, Ptychomitrium polyphyllum (both VC 89) and Thuidium delicatulum (VC 92). About 100 bryophytes were recorded. The Cairnwell was the site of the first excursion when the BBS was last at Braemar in 1964 (Warburg, 1965).

Gleann Beag, VC. 89, 37/17
The majority of members did not fancy the Cairnwell in the mist (though, in fact, it soon cleared) and continued south into Gleann Beag. This glen was also visited in 1964 and is noted for several rarities on the calcareous outcrops on the east side of the valley: Jean re-found the Jungermannia polaris and Tom the Desmatodon leucostoma. Other species that he saw on the crags were Encalypta ciliata, Aloina rigida, Mnium thomsonii and Pseudoleskeella catenulata and Robert found Leucodon sciuroides. Pictus scoticus was not re-found, although we were very close to the site of the small tree on which it was found (Townsend 1982); there was discussion of its possible relationship to Hygrohypnum luridum, which can occur on trees (see section (d), 20 August). Meesia uliginosa and Amblyodon dealbatus were seen in flushes and Anoectangium warburgii and Catoscopium nigritum by a waterfall. Tom visited flushes on the slopes and found Scapania aequiloba and Orthothecium rufescens. On flushed ground on the western slope of Meall Gorm, Jean re-found Scapania degenii close to where she had found it in 1964 (Paton 1966). Over 110 bryophytes were seen during the day, of which five (Jungermannia confertissima, Dichodontium flavescens, Fissidens bryoides, Racomitrium ericoides and Zygodon viridissimus var. stirtonii) were new for this well-worked 10 km square.

Braemar Youth Hostel ponds, VC. 92, 37/19
The Gleann Beag party explored these ponds, which had been found by Alain and were nearly dry and so ideal for bryophytes. Finds included two species new for South Aberdeenshire: Fossombronia foveolata* and Ephemerum serratum var. serratum*. Other plants present included Fossombronia wondraczekii, Pellia neesiana, Sphagnum teres and Pohlia bulbifera.

Tuesday, 20 August

Clais Fhearnaig, VC. 92, 37/09
One party went to this narrow gorge, a tributary of the River Quoich. They entered by the western end, and soon found Philonotis seriata in a flush. Blanka found Tetralophozia setiformis in block scree. Much of the time, however, was spent examining some south-facing crags which were calcareous in part. Finds included Grimmia torquata plentifully, G. funalis and Dryptodon patens. Also seen were Encalypta ciliata, Leucodon sciuroides and Pterigynandrum filiforme, with an abundant sheet of Antitrichia curtipendula in one place. Orthotrichum rupestre was epiphytic on poplar, and also occurred on a nearby crag. Grimmia donniana was seen on several boulders. The floor of the valley is blocked by an old dam and contains a shallow peaty pool. Here Tom found Haplomitrium hookeri on the peaty margin under sedges, and Ephemerum serratum var. serratum on peaty mud; Nick found Riccardia incurvata. Along with yesterday's finds, these two latter were both new for South Aberdeenshire. Nearly 120 bryophytes were seen, of which nearly 40 were new for the 10 km square.

Glen Quoich, VC. 92, 37/19
The Clais Fhearnaig party moved on to the lower part of Glen Quoich. A boulder scree on the slope of Creag Bhaig had been visited in 1964 and Anastrophyllum saxicola and Cynodontium strumiferum discovered there. Both were re-found. Why should A. saxicola be so abundant here and yet so rare in Britain as a whole? Its lack of means of dispersal does not seem to be an adequate explanation. Tetralophozia setiformis was also seen in the scree and Scapania umbrosa found on rotting wood, but Anastrophyllum hellerianum, seen in 1964, was not re-found. Other finds of note were Odontoschisma denudatum, Barbilophozia atlantica and Orthodontium lineare, all new for the 10 km square.

Forest of Alyth, VC. 89, 37/15
A second party went to a valley bog on the moorland between Glen Shee and Glen Isla, but it proved to be of little interest. Two species new for the 10 km square were found on the side of a ditch by the road: Dicranella rufescens and Pohlia wahlenbergii. Barbula revoluta on the mortar of a bridge, and Racomitrium ericoides on sandy soil, were also new.

Nether Craig at south end of Mount Blair and Drumore Loch, VC. 89, 37/16
The Alyth party moved to Nether Craig. After lunch in the cars because of rain, the weather improved. Altogether nearly 100 bryophytes were seen, of which nearly twenty were new for the 10 km square. These included Cynodontium strumiferum found by Harold on boulders below the crag, Stegonia latifolia found by Mark on the base-rich rocks of the crag and Hygrohypnum luridum var. subsphaericarpon* on a birch trunk beside a streamlet, and Rhytidium rugosum on calcareous ground, both found by Jean.

Wednesday, 21 August

Glen Ey, VC. 92, 37/08
One party explored this valley. Nearly 140 bryophytes were seen, of which nearly 60 were new for the 10 km square, indicating that this was an area little-visited hitherto by bryologists. Indeed, eight of the nine species of Sphagnum noted had not been recorded previously in 37/08. Jean found Cephalozia loitlesbergeri growing over S. capillifolium and Leucobryum glaucum, and near the Colonel's Bed ravine she found Scapania lingulata* on a base-rich ledge on a rock and S. degenii in a flush, Mark found Cololejeunea calcarea on a basic rock face, and David Long and Rod found Hygrobiella laxifolia and Cynodontium strumiferum. It rained heavily at times and we had a wet picnic. By the track on our way back in the rain, Vanessa found Marsupella funckii. Several species that are common over much of Britain but rare in north-east Scotland were found: Campylopus introflexus, Orthodontium lineare, Thamnobryum alopecurum and Rhynchostegium confertum. The latter would have been a new vice-county record but no-one seems to have collected a voucher specimen.

Linn of Dee, VC. 92, 37/08
The Glen Ey party moved to Linn of Dee, where Bryum mildeanum had been seen in 1964. We could not re-find it in spite of careful search. A small side ravine 2 km west of Linn of Dee had abundant Antitrichia curtipendula and plants seen nearby by David included Douinia ovata, Porella cordaeana, Lejeunea cavifolia, Cynodontium strumiferum, C. bruntonii, Pohlia drummondii and Zygodon baumgartneri.

Juanjorge, Glen Clova, Angus, VC. 90, 37/27
A second party made the long journey to Glen Clova. They were rewarded by re-finding Grimmia unicolor and Bryum dixonii. It was at Juanjorge that Ursula Duncan in 1964 had made the first find of B. dixonii since Dixon's original discovery of it on Ben Narnain, Argyll, in 1898, and it was also in 1964 that she re-found the G. unicolor, which had not been seen since 1883 (Duncan 1966). Six other species of Grimmia were seen, including G. ovalis, G. britannica and G. decipiens, found by Ron. Indeed, it proved to be an excellent locality for Grimmiaceae as a whole, with Dryptodon patens, Racomitrium ellipticum, R. macounii, R. sudeticum, R. affine* and the R. obtusum form of R. heterostichum seen. Other notable finds were Tetralophozia setiformis, Barbilophozia atlantica, Lophozia longidens, Douinia ovata, Cololejeunea calcarea, Cynodontium strumiferum, C. jenneri, Dicranoweisia crispula, Pterigynandrum filiforme and Plagiothecium denticulatum var. obtusifolium. New for the 10 km square were Campylopus introflexus and Rhabdoweisia crispata. About 115 bryophytes were recorded at Juanjorge.

Thursday, 22 August

Caenlochan Glen and east side of Glas Maol, VC. 90, 37/17
Cars were left at the top of the pass near the Cairnwell and members walked to the summit of Glas Maol. This was the route to Caenlochan that had been taken in 1964. On the present visit, the summit was hidden in mist and compasses had to be used to reach the south-west corner of the Glen.

Plants seen during the descent of a gully included Lophozia opacifolia, Diplophyllum taxifolium, Oedipodium griffithianum, male Splachnum vasculosum, Pohlia ludwigii, Rhizomnium magnifolium and Plagiomnium medium*. On the east-facing cliffs as we worked northwards, finds included Herbertus stramineus, Anthelia juratzkana, Jungermannia polaris*, J. borealis, Scapania calcicola*, Cololejeunea calcarea, Seligeria recurvata, Encalypta alpina, Grimmia torquata, Mnium thomsonii, Amphidium lapponicum, Myurella julacea, Pseudoleskeella catenulata, Lescuraea patens, Hypnum bambergeri and H. callichroum. At the north end of the cliffs, Andreaea mutabilis was found by David Long, Plagiothecium denticulatum var. obtusifolium and the rare fern Woodsia alpina were found by Rod, Brachythecium glareosum by Mark, and Cratoneuron decipiens in flushes by Ron and David.

In the boulder scree below the cliffs, Rod found Lescuraea incurvata (as well as L. patens), Jean found L. plicata and both she and Ron found Marsupella adusta on small stones. In the Deschampsia cespitosa grassland on the steep hillside between the cliffs and the boulders, Agneta found Atrichum undulatum and this prompted Harold to make a gathering from this habitat: it comprised Fissidens taxifolius, Oxystegus tenuirostris and Bartramia ithyphylla along with Scapania scandica, Lophocolea bidentata, Riccia sorocarpa, Ditrichum pusillum*, Philonotis arnellii, Pohlia ludwigii, Bryum sp. (with brown ovate tubers) and Isopterygium elegans. This is a curious assemblage of species and a strange habitat for many of them. It does not correspond with the bryophytes listed by McVean (1964) for the alpine Deschampsia cespitosa association: clearly, the bryophytes of the grassland in Caenlochan Glen would be worth further study. The site was at 840 m, which is above the usual altitudinal limit for O. tenuirostris.

At the site of late snow patches on the ascent back to Glas Maol, plants seen included Haplomitrium hookeri found by Ron, Scapania paludosa, Moerckia blyttii, Sphagnum girgensohnii, Polytrichum sexangulare and Bryum muehlenbeckii, the latter found by Nick.

Besides the four plants new to the vice-county, eight species new to the 10 km square were seen: Jungermannia subelliptica, Kiaeria blyttii, Campylopus pyriformis, Racomitrium macounii, R. ericoides, Bryum muehlenbeckii, Brachythecium glareosum and Hylocomium umbratum. The total number of bryophytes recorded during the day at this remarkable place was about 200.

Friday, 23 August

Glen Quoich, VC. 92, 37/19
Those who missed the visit to Glen Quoich on 20 August took the opportunity to remedy that. The Anastrophyllum saxicola was found by David Rycroft. Species seen that were not noted by the earlier party included Barbilophozia lycopodioides, Gymnomitrion concinnatum and Isothecium myosuroides var. brachythecioides, all found by Rod, and Blepharostoma trichophyllum, Calypogeia neesiana, Jungermannia obovata, Lophozia bicrenata, L. obtusa (new for 37/19) and Scapania scandica. Other species seen that had not been recorded before for 37/19 were Campylopus introflexus, Trichostomum brachydontium, Brachythecium albicans and B. glareosum, the latter found on a rock face by Mark. About 120 bryophytes were seen.

Clais Fhearnaig, VC. 92, 37/09
Some of the Glen Quoich party went on to this gorge that others had visited three days before. In addition to re-finding many of the plants seen earlier, they recorded about a dozen species that the other party had not seen. These included Anastrepta orcadensis and Racomitrium elongatum, both new for 37/09. Fossombronia incurva was seen and would have been a new vice-county record if a voucher specimens had been collected.

Glen Callater and Corrie Kander, VC. 92, 37/18
A second party made the long walk up Glen Callater to Corrie Kander. Nick re-found Bryum muehlenbeckii where it had been found in 1964 by a stream near the head of Loch Callater and he also found it in Corrie Kander. Blanka re-found Mielichhoferia elongata at its classic site near Loch Kander. Tom found Tritomaria polita, Andreaea mutabilis, Arctoa fulvella, Grimmia elongata* and Racomitrium macounii on the scree and crags above Loch Kander and Ron found Grimmia incurva on rocks. The G. elongata was a notable find, as it seems to be the first recent record for Scotland. According to Warburg (1965b), it was found in Glen Quoich in 1964, but the find seems not to have been confirmed. G. atrata was re-found with abundant capsules. Cushions of Hygrobiella laxifolia were seen by a waterfall, Conostomum tetragonum on rocky ledges and Plagiothecium denticulatum var. obtusifolium in boulder scree. Other species seen in Corrie Kander were Andreaea alpina, Grimmia donniana and Philonotis seriata. About 110 species were recorded during the day, of which Jungermannia hyalina, Pohlia drummondii and Hygrohypnum luridum were new for the 10 km square and Andreaea mutabilis, Tortella tortuosa, Grimmia elongata and Racomitrium sudeticum had not been seen for many years.

The Braemar week was very successful. The number of interesting finds at well-worked sites was particularly gratifying. The week could not be expected to match the extraordinary success of the 1964 meeting, when nearly 100 new vice county records were made; on that occasion members were most energetic, visiting Beinn a'Bhuird, Lochnagar, Glas Tulaichean and Ben Macdhui during the fortnight.

We thank Dr Noel Pritchard for making the arrangements. I am grateful to David Long, Jean Paton, Mark Pool, Nick Hodgetts, Rod Stern, Ron Porley and Tom Blockeel for help with this report.

Saturday, 24 August

nr. Rothbury, Northumberland, VC. 67, 45/09
Five of us (Agneta, Harold, John, Nick and Tom) met here on our way south from Braemar in order to search for Seligeria carniolica. It had been found on small boulders in a shaded stream by Miss E.M. Lobley, R.D. Fitzgerald, R. Hall and J.H.G. Peterken in May 1964. We worked up the stream and Tom soon found non-fruiting material, recognised by the long, undulate subula to the leaves.


Duncan UK. 1966. A bryophyte flora of Angus. Transactions of the British Bryological Society 5: 1-82.
Long DG. 1996. New vice-county records and amendments to the Census Catalogues. Hepaticae. Bulletin of the British Bryological Society 68: 42-44.
McVean DN. 1964. Grass heaths. Pp. 499-513 in Burnett JH, ed. The vegetation of Scotland. Edinburgh & Lodnon: Oliver & Boyd.
Paton JA. 1966. Scapania degenii Schiffn. ex K. Müll. in the Braemar district of Scotland. Transactions of the British Bryological Society 5: 83-85.
Townsend CC. 1982. Pictus scoticus, a new genus and species of pleurocarpous moss from Scotland. Journal of Bryology 12: 1-6.
Warburg EF. 1965. The summer meeting, 1964. Transactions of the British Bryological Society 4: 895-899.



Annual General Meeting and Symposium Meeting 1996

Ness Botanic garden, Wirral, 20-22 September

Dr Hugh McAllister of Ness Botanic Gardens, the local organizer, found us a splendid place to stay in Burton Manor, a large house on the Wirral converted into a conference centre. Ness Gardens, the venue for the meeting on Saturday, was a short car ride away, and members returned to Burton Manor in the evening for the Centenary Dinner. Sincere thanks to both Hugh and Dr Rachel Janes, also of Ness Gardens, for their efforts in organising this centenary AGM. My thanks also to the speak ers for providing an entertaining and interesting selection of talks, particularly those who were called upon to contribute at short notice.


Dr Dennis Brown and Julian Smith (University of Bristol): 'The Wormery'.

A series of experiments to study the decomposition of 2 cm apical segments of Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus were described. A glass frame covered with netting was used in place of the traditional net bag and moss segments were placed directly on a lawn soil surface, after the grass had been removed. Segment losses were attributed to worms. Plastic drainpipes driven into the ground, with or without added worms, supported this suggestion. Drainpipes, partly filled with soil and containing a single worm (the wormery), were used under controlled laboratory conditions to test worm preferences for mosses held above the soil surface by supporting them through holes in a plastic dish. These showed that worms more readily consumed oven-baked moss apices more than either boiled or live green tips or brown bases and showed a stronger preference for oven-baked apices when soaked in extra nutrients obtained from homogenized fresh apices. Worms were most selective when the soil contained high percentages of leaf litter as an alternative food source, or when the soil or moss was wettest. The apparatus is a simple and convenient way of testing the role of worms in early stages of moss decomposition.

Dr John Edmondson (Liverpool Museum): 'Museum bryophyte collections: their scientific and cultural value'.

The bryophyte collections at Liverpool Museum were briefly described, with special reference to the historically important collections of Sir James Edward Smith, John Forbes Royle and the Liverpool Botanic Garden herbarium, which was founded in 1799. In order to maximize the scientific value of the collections and to increase the efficiency of the loans service, considerable effort is now being made to document them on computer. Liverpool Museum is also committing more resources to maintaining the stability of the specimens and their labels through appropriate conservation treatments and improved storage. The cultural value of such collections was also discussed, referring to the educational value of these records of the past activities of bryologists and the insights they give into the social milieu in which the collections were first made. Some thoughts were shared on the new uses of preserved bryological collections, including their value as sources of DNA samples, for chemical screening, paleoclimatology, ethnobryology and pollution monitoring. Lastly, the point was made that the value of collections could be greatly enhanced through specialist input from taxonomic experts and other users.

Dr Mike Le Duc (University of Liverpool, Ness Gardens): 'Bryophytes and bracken control'.

Bracken, Pteridium aquilinum (L.) Kuhn, is a very serious weed in the uplands and marginal land of the UK. Dense monocultural stands are known to infest around 1.6% of the total land area, with a similar amount present as sparse cover. As bracken has a large underground rhizome system its elimination is impracticable.

In steep and undulating terrain the only effective method for bracken control is by aerial spraying with the herbicide asulam. This licensed process is increasingly widely used in the uplands, with about 6000 ha being sprayed in 1990.

The impact of asulam treatment on the vegetation of upland and marginal land is not well known, especially in the longer term. Asulam itself has a narrow spectrum of activity; it is known to damage only ferns, some docks and a small number of grasses. Asulam's effect on bryophytes is not known. Moreover, once sprayed the vegetation undergoes a post-treatment succession, the direction of which is influenced by a number of factors, some natural such as climate, others site- or management-specific, for example grazing pressure (Pakeman, Le Duc & Marrs, in press).

A research project, funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, was instigated to address this problem. It was undertaken, jointly, by the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology (ITE), Monks Wood, and the University of Liverpool Environmental and Horticultural Research Station, Ness Botanic Gardens. The project co-ordinator (Robin Pakeman, ITE) and I shared the field work and, with the assistance of several students, we carried out a major survey in the summers of 1994 and 1995. With agreement from local managers we visited 117 sites, mostly heath and acid grassland, from Skye to Exmoor, the Lleyn Peninsula to the North York Moors. At each site transects were laid across the sprayed areas and 1-m quadrats were employed to assess the cover of vegetation . We used the chronosequence, or space-for-time substitution, approach and were thus able to estimate the course of events over a period of zero to 19 years after spraying.

A total of 75 bryophyte species were found in this study, 60 of which were mosses. The latter included the common heathland species Dicranum scoparium; but Polytrichum formosum, usually a woodland species, was more common than another member of the heathland community, P. commune. Several Campylopus species were found, including C. pyriformis and C. introflexus most commonly. C. subulatus was present at only a few sites, mainly in NW England and N Wales. Leptodontium flexifolium was also rare, being found only in NW England. The weft-forming pleurocarps, Pseudoscleropodium purum, Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus (the most commonly occurring of the mosses) and Pleurozium schreberi were all very common, as was Hypnum jutlandicum, seemingly quite adapted to surviving amongst thick bracken litter. Eurhynchium praelongum and Hylocomium splendens were both fairly frequent, notably at sites in the Southern Uplands and NW and NE England. Of the liverworts Calypogeia fissa, Barbilophozia floerkei, Lophocolea bidentata and Ptilidium ciliare were the most common. However liverwort recording was uneven and the data are not considered further here.

When sprayed and unsprayed sites were compared it was found that the frequencies of occurrence of the most common mosses were greater in the sprayed sites (Table). However when tested statistically it was found that only Dicranum scoparium, Campylopus introflexus and Pleurozium schreberi, perhaps the most shade-intolerant members of the group, showed a significantly greater frequency after spraying. None of the species tested statistically (Table) were less frequent on sprayed sites.

Species Unsprayed Sprayed
Polytrichum formosum 13 20
Dicranum scoparium * 27 54
Campylopus pyriformis 20 22
Campylopus introflexus ** 7 47
Pseudoscleropodium purum 20 39
Eurhynchium praelongum 13 14
Hypnum jutlandicum 40 62
Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus 60 66
Pleurozium schreberi * 13 40
Hylocomium splendens 13 20

Table. Relative frequency (%) of occurrence of the commoner species of moss on bracken-infested land. Comparison of sites sprayed with asulam (n = 101) with unsprayed sites (n= 15). Species showing distributions statistically (G-statistic) dependent on spraying are indi cated by: *, p < 0.05; **, p < 0.01.

Many other factors could be responsible for determining species composition in a complex environment. To investigate this we used canonical correspondence analysis (CCA), a multivariate ordination technique that automatically relates, by regression analysis, ordination axes to measured environmental variables (ter Braak, 1986). In this way it was possible to assess the relative importance of a set of environmental variables, including elapsed-time since spraying, in determining species composition.

We found that the two most important variables influencing plant species composition were those determining geographical location, namely national grid easting and northing. The sequence of importance of the other variables was: distance of the site from the sea; altitude; amount of non-bracken litter present (a variable influenced by the general type of vegetation present); amount of animal excrement present (an indicator of the grazing pressure); elapsed-time since spraying. Two other variables were statistically significant, but less important in the model: site slope, and the amount of bracken litter present. The latter is a complex indicator of the vigour of the original bracken infestation and rates of litter breakdown and dispersal.

Using the CCA ordination scores for the ten common mosses on the vector of elapsed-time since spraying it was possible to elicit two main types of response to the spraying event. The first type was a continuing increase in abundance for some time following spraying. This behaviour was shown by Polytrichum formosum, Dicranum scoparium, Campylopus pyriformis, C. introflexus, Eurhynchium praelongum and Hypnum jutlandicum. The other group (Pseudoscleropodium purum, Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus, Pleurozium schreberi and Hylocomium splendens) was found to show an initial increase in abundance, immediately after spraying, and then gradually decline.

Some areas of treated brackenlands in the North York Moors support this result for the alien Campylopus introflexus. A dense mat of the moss appears to be obstructing the establishment of other species. However our model suggests that after about nine years the problem may ease as the moss begins to decline in abundance. Colonies of C. pyriformis, on the other hand, tend to break up quite soon to provide establishment sites for Calluna vulgaris.

The disappearance of the weft-forming pleurocarps through time is thought to be associated with grazing pressure, which inevitably increases after the removal of the bracken canopy. However, the disturbance created by stock is very effective in dispersing thick mats of bracken litter. The process can often lead to the presence of bare ground, thus aiding the establishment of Campylopus species.

In conclusion, the process of spraying with asulam for bracken control does not, in itself, affect the distribution of the commoner mosses seriously, although the abundance of some may increase. However the post-treatment succession, which is affected by a number of other environmental variables, both physical and biotic, can interact to alter the bryophyte flora.


Pakeman RJ, Le Duc MG, Marrs RH. (in press). Moorland vegetation succession after the control of bracken with asulam. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment.
ter Braak CJF. 1986. Canonical correspondence analysis: a new eigenvector technique for multivariate direct gradient analysis. Vegetatio 67: 69-77.

Mr Brian O'Shea (London): 'The BBS and the Internet'.

The BBS now has its own 'Home Page' on the Internet's World Wide Web (WWW), hosted on the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden computer. The Internet is a way of connecting you and your computer to the computers of others, and these can be public or private, acad emic, commercial, personal, national government, or indeed any data resource that people want to make publicly available. If you are a private individual wanting access to the Internet, you will need a device called a modem to connect your computer via a telephone link to an Internet service provider (ISP). If you are connecting via your organisation, this part will not be visible to you: all you will be aware of is that the Internet link is there, usually on your local network (organisations may be ISPs them selves, or may take their service from an ISP using a permanent data link rather than a dial up service). The ISPs are connected into a global network which includes mechanisms for routing messages, maintaining addresses of all nodes on the network etc. Each node has a universal resource locator (URL) that indicates country (unless the USA when this is omitted), type of organisation and node name within that type of organisation. For instance my own node name is '' indicating that I get my service via an ISP called demon, which is a commercial organisation in the UK. The Royal Botanic Garden at Edinburgh has a node name '', indicating that it is a non-commercial organisation. In practice URLs are not as simple as this, but the principle of the hierarchical address still applies. The URL for the BBS Home Page is:
There are some organisations that provide an Internet service in a slightly different way, such as Compuserve. They have a self-contained network of their own which provides various internal facilities, but also have gateways out of the network into the Internet itself.

The Internet provides a number of facilities, but some of these are increasingly being subsumed within WWW, so the majority of people on the Internet now use three main facilities: email, newsgroups and WWW. Email (electronic mail) operates in a similar way to ordinary mail. You compose letters 'off-line' (i.e. you don't need to be connected to the Internet mail service) and then when complete 'send' them, which means that a link is made to the network and they are dispatched. Mail to you arrives in the same way: whenever the link to the Internet is open, mail for you can be received. If like me you are a personal subscriber to the Internet, this means that when you have letters to send, you connect to the network by clicking an icon on the screen (which initiates the dialling to my ISP), and then as soon as the connection is made all your mail is sent and any for you is received. You can then disconnect, after probably only a few seconds of phone use, and look at your received mail. If you are using an organisat ional machine, without the need for dialling up for connection, mail is sent and received constantly.

Newsgroups allow you to participate in discussion groups of specific interest to you, and all members of the group (which may be thousands) receive all contributions. There may be a number of 'threads' within the discussion group any of which you can follow or contribute to. The link to the Internet operates in a similar way to email. There is a specific one for bryology called 'Bryonet'. The World Wide Web (WWW) is the aspect of the Internet which has fuelled the exponential growth we are now seeing. WWW is a way of looking at information other people have made available on their computers as specially formatted documents that can contain pictures, sound, animations or video, and can be interactive. They are viewed using a computer program called a 'browser' , such as Netscape or Microsoft Internet Explorer. There are two aspects that make this a much more powerful tool than it sounds. Firstly, the documents are 'hypertext' - that is, it is possible for a document author to highlight parts of the document that link you to more information on that subject. That link can be to elsewhere in the same document or to another document anywhere in the world, and the way that the WWW works means that the time to access a document on the same computer may not be significan tly faster than accessing a document at the other side of the world. Potentially this makes each document like a page of an infinite encyclopaedia, and hence the term 'surfing the Internet'. Secondly, the documents are indexed via vast 'search engines' that constantly keep up to date with what's where, so you can search for 'bryology', and come back with thousands of 'hits'. As it will search for words in combination, this is usually the best way to find restaurants in Rochdale, the weather in Wales, mosses in Madeira, cinemas in Seattle or whatever else it is you want to search for.

The BBS Home Page (so called because it is where the BBS lives on the Internet) is intended to be both a shop window for the society and an information resource for both members and anyone else who is interested. The first page of a WWW site is usually a welcome screen of some sort, which says who you are and provides links to the documents that are available on the site. David Long is the 'editor' of the BBS site, appointed by Council, and although the initial launch of the BBS site was limited to documents that were easily available in computer format, David is now seeking views on how the site should develop.

Although it was possible to show samples of WWW documents on the overhead projector, we were fortunate that Ness Botanic Garden very generously provided two computers linked to WWW for our use during the meeting, so we were able to demonstrate both the BBS site as well as links to the American Bryological and Lichenological site and other sites of bryological interest.

R.D. Porley (English Nature): 'The Darwin Initiative bryological expedition to Uganda'.

The Tropical Bryology Group last had a bryological expedition to Africa in 1991, when seven members went to Mulanje Mountain, Malawi. That expedition was largely self-financed. Progress has been steady with naming the collections and publishing the results. However, to maintain and develop the groups' expertise in tropical bryology, particularly in the field, it was decided to return to Africa. It was agreed that this time we would need to seek funding for the expedition, and we submitted a proposal to the Darwin Initiative in late 1994. This is a fund established by the UK government following the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Its purpose is to support the development of an integrated strategy for the deployment of UK scientific, industrial and managerial expertise to assist developing countries implement the Convention on Biological Diversity.

We were delighted to learn that the proposal had been successful and that we had secured funding to enable a three year project to go ahead. The project was to study and document the bryoflora of montane rain forests in Uganda. The present political stability in Uganda, the dearth of published bryological data for the country, the pressing priority to document the biodiversity in one of the richest parts of Africa, and to contribute to the effective conservation of the rain forests convinced us that Uganda was the country to go to. Furthermore, Uganda represents something of a gap in our knowledge of the bryoflora of East Africa, with Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and eastern Zaire being relatively better known.

There are five key objectives of the project:

  • to make as complete an inventory as possible of the bryophytes of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Rwenzori National Park and other montane forests in western Uganda.
  • to compare the bryophyte floras of these areas both with each other and with other East African forests.
  • to identify centres of bryological diversity as a contribution to their effective conservation.
  • to communicate the bryological importance of the study areas to specialists and administrative authorities.
  • to facilitate the study of bryophytes in Uganda by providing bryological literature and training for local botanists, and donating a set of named vouchers to the herbarium of Makerere University.

Six UK members of the Tropical Bryology Group, Jeff Bates, Nick Hodgetts, Howard Matcham, Ron Porley, Robin Stevenson and Martin Wigginton left England on 19 January, 1996. We were joined in Kampala by Stephen Byarujali and Berna Nakityo of Makerere University.

Uganda is about the same size as the UK although 25% of the country is water (Lake Victoria, Albert, Edward, George, Kyoga and The Nile). It is situated on the equator on the Central African Plateau with most of the land over 1000 m above sea level. The Rwenzori, Ptolemy's fabled Mountains of the Moon, forms the western border with Zaire, and Mt. Elgon rises above the plains over to the east on the Kenyan border.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the main study site in year one, is located in the south west corner of Uganda at the end of the western arm of the Great Rift Valley. It covers some 321 km and varies in altitude from 1160 m to 2600 m. It is of one of the few forests in East Africa to show an intact altitudinal zonation from lowland forest type, through sub-montane to montane. The known flora and fauna of Bwindi is impressive: there are over 1000 vascular plants, possibly a greater number of trees than in any other East African forest, there are several endemic trees and many central African trees reach their eastern limits here. It is the best forest for primates in East Africa, supporting about half the global population of mountain gorilla. In addition there are chimpanzees, black and white colobus and several Cercopithecus species, 58% of African montane birds, also occur in Bwindi, including the spectacular Rwenzori turaco. Bwindi is an important Nile catchment area and is vital for watershed protection (facilitated by the large bryophyte biomass acting as a slow release sponge).

The drive from Kampala to Bwindi, which took us across the equator, was about 400 km. It seemed to be twice as far though because of the rather ancient Landrover (probably from the old Colonial days) which we had the use of. Howard was voted to be our main driver and it was no easy task. However, despite the bonnet having to be raised far too frequently, it did eventually get us there (and back). Daily sorties on foot were made into Bwindi forest from Ruhiija, our base for the first half of the trip, and then from our base at Buhoma, which took us further north.

Bryophytes were collected from as wide a range of habitats as possible; particular attention was paid to twigs and branches laying on the forest floor as this was the only way to sample the canopy. Typical plants found in this situation were Mastigophora diclados, Chandonanthus hirtellus and Macromitrium spp. The forest floor, on bare exposed earth banks, could also be rewarding, with Telaranea nematodes and two ecostate Fissidens species, F. bryum and F. usambaricus, all previously unreported for Uganda. However, trees proved to be amongst the most productive of the habitats for bryophytes, supporting diverse range of epiphytes and epiphylls.Plagiochila squamulosa was particularly prominent, together withPilotrichum sp., Calyptothecium hoehnelii, Porothamnium spp., Syrrhopodon gaudichaudii and, more rarely, Prionodon sp. More familiar plants were also present, such as Pterogonium gracile and Leptodon smithii. Buhoma was noticeably more humid than Ruhiija and correspondingly richer in bryophytes. Epiphylls were encountered in some quantity, including the distinctive Radula flaccida and Caudalejeunea sp. Other notable plants from this area, and not so far recorded for Uganda, include Distichophyllum rigidicaule, Homaliodendron piniforme, Syrrhopodon gardneri and Frullania diptera.

In addition to the general collecting, Jeff Bates was keen to undertake an ecological study or two. The main study involved investigating bryophyte diversity and species ranges in relation to altitude. Five plots, 25 x 25 m, were delimited at points along an altitudinal gradient and all bryophyte species recorded noting whether on trees , rotting wood, rock, on leaves and so on. Observations on stand structure, vascular flora and topography were also made. Alongside this study was an investigation of epiphyte communities. In each of the plots mentioned above, five mature trees were selected and the epiphyte community sampled by a 25 x 10 cm quadrat attached to the trunk at about chest height. This was repeated at a number of aspects on each tree to characterize any variation in the community. One of the plots was set up in high altitude bamboo forest; bryophytes were present on the stems particularly around the rough nodes.

It was decided that two members, Nick and Ron, accompanied by local trackers, would make an excursion into the interior; a day to walk in, a full day collecting and the third day to walk out. Two memorable nights were spent under canvas deep in the rainforest, all too aware that the tents were pitched across a regularly used elephant track. Luckily for us they didn't pass this way again, at least while we were there. In this part of the forest, large buttressed trees were common having escaped the deprivations of loggers. Tree-ferns were also a prominent feature of this area, and the moss Rhizofabronia persoonii appeared to be restricted to their fibrous stems. Epiphylls were common, with many representatives of Lejeuneaceae, including Taxilejeunea pulchriflora, Colura tenuicornis and Odontolejeunea lunulata, all unrecorded for Uganda. Several epiphyllous Daltonia spp. were also collected. On our way out of the forest we saw fresh gorilla nests, and it was quite a thought that we had been sleeping just a few hundred metres away from these incredible animals.

The number of published taxa from Uganda prior to our visit is something in the order of 362 mosses and 156 liverworts. Bryology in Uganda dates back to the early 1800s a period when some type specimens were published. Several collections have been made since, for example in the 1920s and 1930s, and with a particular increase in activity in the 1950s and 1960s, just before Independence and the Amin era. A large number of collections reside in the British Museum (Natural History), some named, but many not. Brian O'Shea has started working on these collections. Makerere University also houses a small collection of bryophytes from Uganda, some with familiar collector names, such as Alan Crundwell and Francis Rose. However most of these are also un-named. It is early days yet with the naming of our material, but many species are turning out to be new to Uganda, and for mosses the total is now in excess of 400 and for liverworts over 200.

All those who took part in the expedition had memorable experiences. For me, and I suspect others too, it was to see, at close range, a family of mountain gorillas set against the backdrop of their montane rain forest home.

Finally I would like to say many thanks to Nick Hodgetts and Martin Wigginton who did virtually all the organisation of the expedition, both before we left these shores and in Africa.

Jane Burch (Manchester University): 'The Leucobryoid leaf.'

The leucobryoid leaf is a multistratose leaf, characteristic of ten genera of mosses, and consists of dorsal and ventral layers of hyalocyst cells sandwiching a median layer of chlorocysts. The leaf structure is distinctive, giving the mosses a whitish appearance especially when dry, hence the general term leucobryoid mosses, derived from the widespread genus Leucobryum.

The leucobryoid leaf is quite variable in the details of its structure between genera. For example, in some cases there are additional superficial networks of chlorocysts, and in others additional layers of hyalocysts. Moreover, sporophyte structures such as the peristome, indicate that genera with the leucobryoid leaf are not necessarily closely related. The question arises as to whether the leucobryoid leaf can be regarded as a monophyletic character, or a response to habitat selective pressures that has arisen several times.

In order to investigate this problem, the leucobryoid leaf from a range of mosses was analysed using light microscopy. Each moss was scored according to ten characters relating to the leucobryoid leaf, and possible homologous structures were sought between leucobryoid leaves, and also in non-leucobryoid leaves which might give clues to the phylogeny of these mosses. The data were processed using the cladistic program Henig86 (whose results were largely discounted), and also cluster analysis.

From this study, it appears that the leucobryoid leaf evolved on at least five different occasions:

  • Leucophanes is the only genus in which the leucobryoid part of the leaf originated from the lamina. This therefore led to the conclusion that it has a separate evolutionary line, and is the only genus belonging to the Leucophanaceae.
  • Octoblepharum, Exodictyon and Arthrocormus remain within the Syrrhopodontales, but in a separate family from Leucophanes.
  • Leucobryaceae genera Schistomitrium and Leucobryum (pro parte), have extra strata of hyalocysts, and may have evolved from a Campylopus-type ancestor via a Brothera-type leaf, with the central cells accounting for the increased number of hyalocysts.
  • Leucobryaceae genera Cladopodanthus, Ochrobryum and Leucobryum (pro parte), evolved from a Campylopus-type ancestor via a Paraleucobryum-type leaf, with just two hyalocyst strata, sandwiching chlorocysts between them.
  • Theriotia represents a separate evolutionary line from an ancestral moss.

These results support the theory, based on sporophyte structure, that the leucobryoid leaf is polyphyletic, but may highlight potential inconsistencies such as the split within Leucobryum, which require more detailed analysis.

The paper was based on a third-year undergraduate project (supervised by Sean Edwards) at Manchester University. It is important to state that the project represented a feasibilty-study for the investigation into the phylogeny of the leucobryoid leaf, and the brief results given above do not represent a proposed phylogeny, but may be useful as pointers for further research.

Mr Ray Woods (Countryside Council for Wales): 'The conservation of bryophytes in Wales'.

The framework of statutory conservation measures was explained for Wales. There are now over 900 Sites of Special Scientific Interest covering over 207,000 hectares. Whilst few SSSIs have been notified exclusively for bryophytes, most important bryophyte sites have been protected by this mechanism. A recent survey of Brecknock showed that 89% of all the mosses recorded from the vice-county and 90% of the liverworts occurred on SSSIs. In Radnorshire, 84% of mosses and 95% of the liverworts were represented on SSSIs. The relationship of the SSSI system to National Nature Reserves and Local Nature Reserves was then explained.

Such designations will only ever cover a small proportion of the countryside. To promote conservation of important habitats in the wider countryside, a range of agri-environment conservation schemes have been developed. These include the Tir Cymen, Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) and Habitat Schemes. All seek to prevent damage to a range of bryophyte-rich habitats, such as woodlands, wetlands, rough grazings and rock outcrops, and operate in discrete areas of Wales. These schemes have now been running long enough to begin to judge their effectiveness. Tir Cymen and the ESAs have so far attracted voluntarily nearly half of the farms which were eligible into the schemes. A Welsh Office review is underway to recommend the best way forward.

Finally, members were alerted to the important developments arising from decisions taken at the World Environmental Summit in Rio de Janiero in 1992. Action Plans have been drafted to encourage the conservation of some of our most threatened bryophytes. It is important that the BBS plays a full part in guiding the development of these plans and the selection of the species. Plans have been, or will be, drafted to conserve a number of bryophyte-rich habitats, such as upland oakwoods.

Field Excursion to Esclusham Mountain, 22 September 1996

The weather was warm and sunny for the excursion to Esclusham Mountain (VC 50), an area of North Welsh moorland which was bryologically unknown. The rock is Millstone Grit, so that most of the land is acid. There are, however, numerous old mines, where the underlying Carboniferous limestone has been extracted and dumped on the surface.

The first thing that caught our eye as we examined some mine spoil was a large quantity of Ditrichum flexicaule* s.s., forming its distinctive dense tussocks. Other calcicoles of interest were Climacium dendroides, Cratoneuron commutatum var. falcatum, Orthotrichum cupulatum, Plagiomnium cuspidatum and Rhodobryum roseum. Ron Porley found Entodon concinnus, which had not been seen in the vice-county since about 1920, when it was found nearby at Minera. Alan Crundwell found Bryum creberrimum.

The calcifuge and calcium-indifferent flora was larger but less remarkable. We found 10 species of Sphagnum, including S. girgensohnii and large quantities of S. russowii. S. capillifolium by contrast was scarce and found by only one participant. Also on wet ground were Calliergon stramineum, Drepanocladus exannulatus and D. fluitans. Racomitrium elongatum and R. ericoides grew on dry ground near the road, and Dichodontium pellucidum (confusingly) on limestone rubble. Liverworts were few, with Barbilophozia floerkei, Ptilidium ciliare and Tritomaria quinquedentata perhaps the most notable.

Although we eventually recorded the quite respectable number of 101 species for the card, we were a little disappointed not to find any lead-mine specialists. These could well exist in the area, perhaps nearer Minera, where there are numerous other mines.

Mark Hill


Bryological Workshop 1996

National Museum and Galleries of Wales, Cardiff, 26-27 October
On the very stormy weekend of 26-27 October, 17 BBS members got together at Cardiff to examine sectioning techniques, and the taxonomic significance of sections, in bryophytes. Tom Blockeel produced and led the programme which covered topics at the cutting-edge of bryological research. Roy Perry was local organizer and had arranged facilities in the School of Pure and Applied Biology, University of Wales, Cardiff, by kind permission of Prof. John Fry. Sean Edwards had provided some of the presentational material on sectioning techniques. We were joined by two museum staff, Victoria Purewal, Conservator, and Kathryn Cliffe. In the Centenary year it was fitting for those unfamiliar with the BBSUK herbarium (and indeed the herbarium of NMW), to have the opportunity during the weekend to inspect it deep within the catacombs of the museum.

Saturday 26 September

We began the session by considering some leaf-section terminology, such as guide cells, hydroids and stereids, and hearing of the value of leaf sections in separating some recently described species from their near relatives, on the basis of leaf stratosity. The various methods that can be used to section bryophytes were then discussed. These ranged from the microtome (but who has one of these?) through wax embedding (too messy and time consuming) and elder pith or carrot (too much detritus gets on slide) to free-hand sectioning.

There is no doubt that free-hand sectioning of leaves gives quick and excellent results, but each individual may have their own preferred method that works for them. The method advocated at the workshop was to take some wetted leaves (no more than 4 or 5 normally suffice) and lay these side by side in a row on a microscope slide, and place over them another slide to hold them firmly in position, and at the same time provide a cutting-edge guide. By doing this it is easy to control where on the leaf one makes the section. A double edged razor blade (preferably broken in half) is then drawn at an angle across the leaves using the upper slide as a guide. The blade can be tilted incrementally as the leaf is sliced, giving several near-perfect sections. It is critical that sharp blades are used; a corner of a blade may be used for sectioning something up to four specimens, by which time it will have become blunt (but is still adequate for cutting stiffer tissue such as stems).

We then moved on to examine the question of Cinclidotus riparius in Britain, and had the opportunity to try out the method outlined above. This plant has always been of doubtful status in Britain, being very difficult to separate from C. fontinaloides in the absence of sporophytes (putative C. riparius has never been found with sporophytes in Britain). Recent work on the species, though, has suggested that there may be a good distinguishing character in the cross section of the thickened leaf margin. We were given continental C. riparius (with exserted capsules) and vouchers of British C. fontinaloides and putative British C. riparius to section and compare. To the surprise of everyone, specimens of putative C. riparius, all from the River Teme, matched continental C. riparius in terms of leaf margin anatomy. The margin in cross section of C. riparius seems to have more or less uniform isodiametric cells, whilst C. fontinaloides is quite different in having a distinct inner group of heavily incrassate, smaller stereid-like cells running through the centre of the thickened margin. By the end of the morning many people were converts to the sectioning method, but we also recognized that the Cinclidotus issue needs to be followed up. After lunch we had a session on Racomitrium and Grimmia, two genera that have always, and justifiably so, been regarded as difficult. There have also been many recent publications on these plants (Bednarek-Ochyra, 1995; Frisvoll, 1983, 1988; Greven, 1995; Maier & Geissler, 1995) and much emphasis has been placed on leaf sections.

Racomitrium. We had a quick run through some taxonomic characters that are relevant in distinguishing Racomitrium species:

  • Papillosity: the British species fall into three groups, those with conical papillae (R. canescens agg.), those with smooth leaf cells (R. ellipticum and R. heterostichum agg.), and those with flat plate-like papillae which give a 'cobblestone' effect to the leaf surface when viewed in section. The plate-like papillae are particularly useful in identifying depauperate specimens of R. fasciculare and in separating R. aquaticum from muticous forms of R. heterostichum.
  • Supra-alar cells: these are the marginal cells at the leaf base. In some species, especially the non-British R. microcarpum and to some extent also R. sudeticum, they form a pellucid band. Their shape is important in separating R. ericoides from R. elongatum.
  • Leaf section profile: the profile of the leaf in section is determined by the width of the nerve, and is important in separating species of the R. heterostichum agg. Species with a wide nerve have a broadly channelled (canaliculate) leaf; those with a narrow nerve have a keeled leaf.
  • Nerve section: the thickness of the nerve (in terms of the number of cell strata) is particularly important in the R. heterostichum aggregate.
  • Outer perichaetial leaves: these are reflexed in R. himalayanum, erect-spreading in other species.
  • Inner perichaetial leaves: these constitute a well-defined character for separating some similar species. In R. heterostichum and R. affine they are strongly differentiated, with hyaline esinuose cells. In R. sudeticum and R. macounii they are only moderately differentiated from the vegetative leaves, and the upper cells have sinuose walls.

Grimmia. With Grimmia it was noted that the distinction from Schistidium can be very subtle, but Schistidium generally has a deciduous columella that is lost with the capsule lid, it has a small calyptra not extending below the lid, the nerve cells in section are usually homogeneous and the plants often have a reddish tinge to them. A list of key characters of Grimmia was then presented:

  • Insertion of lamina onto nerve: three general types were recognized. Some species (e.g. G. montana) have the lamina, as seen in section, arising vertically from the nerve. Consequently these species have a deep narrow slit running along the ventral surface of the nerve, and the leaf easily splits longitudinally under a coverslip. A second type is found in G. laevigata. Here the lamina is inserted sideways onto the nerve and the leaf is rounded in section. The third and most common type has the lamina attached obliquely and the leaf is therefore V-shaped or keeled in section. It was noted that G. ovalis and G. affinis, two much confused species, are readily separated by leaf sections (these being rounded and V-shaped respectively).
  • Stratosity: though widely used in keys, the stratosity of the leaf lamina must be used with caution. Some normally unistratose species (e.g. G. trichophylla) are sometimes partly bistratose near the leaf apex. Other species (e.g G. donniana, G. sessitana) are not always uniformly bistratose.
  • Hair points: in species with short hair-points (e.g. G. hartmanii) the cell lumen is usually readily discernible. However, examination of herbarium specimens suggests that this character may not always be clear-cut.
  • Nerve section: species of Grimmia usually show some differentiation of the cells in the nerve section, hydroids or stereids often being present.
  • Basal leaf cells: the shape of the basal cells (i.e. short or elongate) is a critical character in some species, and the marginal cells are often differentiated from the cells near the nerve. However in some species (e.g. G. donniana) this differentiation is weak. The marginal cells often have thickened cross-walls. G. laevigata is distinctive in having basal marginal cells that are incrassate and often wider than long.
  • Cells above leaf base: these are often strongly incrassate. However, in G. incurva they are nodulose (irregularly thickened) rather than sinuose.
  • Upper leaf cells: species with distinctive upper leaf cells include G. decipiens (cells elongate) and G. elatior (cells with rounded papillae).
  • Gemmae: these are known in G. hartmanii (on the apices of the upper leaves) and in G. trichophylla and G. torquata (on the dorsal surface of the leaf at the base).
  • Presence of innovations: these are distinctive in the interior of G. funalis tufts, having diminutive shell-like leaves and appearing cord-like.
  • Leaf posture: some species have curled or twisted leaves when dry, but this is not always a reliable character. G. incurva fo. brevifolia and many forms of G. funalis have straight leaves.

It was noted that some dioecious species of Grimmia have dimorphic male and female plants.

Keys to Racomitrium and Grimmia were handed out, and BBS herbarium material made available to practise techniques upon and test the keys, or we had some of our own material that had always resisted naming.

As a postscript to Grimmia, we looked briefly at the recent revision of Scandinavian Schistidium species by Hans Blom (1996). Blom's treatment has still to be applied to British material, but only twelve of the 31 Scandinavian species of the S. apocarpum complex are known to occur here at present. A key to the twelve British species, extracted from Blom's book, was distributed.

On Saturday evening we were the guests of NMW, and honoured to be joined by Dr Eurwyn Wiliam, Assistant Director, and his wife. An excellent buffet with wine was laid on for us, and we thank Deb Spillards for her hard work. Then we were shown the Botany Department by research assistant George Hutchinson and Victoria Purewal. One of the museum galleries was opened specially for us but our only slight disappointment was that the giant bugs ('Megabugs') would not perform for us - apparently the air compressor was out of action.

Sunday 27 September

As something of a departure from the usual workshops of the past, it was decided not to have a field excursion but to continue the session on the second day in the lab. This had nothing whatsoever to do with the weather, but was more of an acknowledgement, made well in advance, that we would get much more out of the weekend by concentrating on methodologies and having recourse to expert tuition. We thus turned our attention to pleurocarpous mosses and the value of stem sections for separating a number of easily confused species.

The terms hyalodermis (large thin walled cells surrounding the stem) and central strand (small group of elongate cells running through the middle of a stem axis) were defined. Although the hyalodermis is readily observed in section, it is often collapsed or eroded and may therefore be overlooked on casual inspection. Its usefulness was illustrated in the case of the often difficult to separate Hygrohypnum ochraceum (hyalodermis present) and Hygrohypnum luridum (hyalodermis absent). Special attention however was given to Drepanocladus revolvens agg. and D. vernicosus. By making stem sections D. vernicosus is usually easily separated from D. revolvens agg.: it does not have a hyalodermis whilst the latter aggregate does. It is now recognized that we have two good taxa within D. revolvens aggregate: D. revolvens sensu stricto and D. cossonii. With some experience typical plants of these two plants can be distinguished by their jizz, but the best way to separate them is as below (see also Hedenäs, 1989):

D. revolvens s.s...... mid-leaf cells long (60-140m), tapered at the ends; autoecious
D. cossonii............. mid-leaf cells short (20-95m), often with transverse blunt or oblique end walls; dioecious

Finally we briefly considered the small members of Hypnum. The presence or absence of a hyalodermis can be used to separate two Sections of the genus, Hamulosa (with hyalodermis) and Revolutohypnum (lacking hyalodermis). A plant that some people saw at Morrone in Scotland during the BBS summer meeting this year, pronounced in the field to be Hypnum hamulosum, turns out upon sectioning not to have a hyalodermis, so cannot be H. hamulosum. It was hoped that similar plants might be found in the BBS Herbarium, and one such plant was. The latter plant turned out to be not a Hypnum but a form of Ctenidium molluscum. Subsequent examination has shown that the Morrone plant is also Ctenidium, a confusing form with poorly differentiated stem leaves.

Herbarium material of Drepanocladus and Hypnum were made available for us to section. This transpired to be quite a revelation, since quite a lot of material purporting to be one thing (including new county record vouchers) was in fact something else. Mixed gatherings were also found to be a trap for the unwary!

Everyone was unanimous that this was an immensely interesting meeting, and our appreciation was duly given to both Tom and Roy. We are also most grateful to University of Wales, Cardiff and NMW for such a delightful setting in which to hold the weekend.


Blom HH. 1996. A revision of the Schistidium apocarpum complex in Norway and Sweden. Bryophytorum Bibliotheca 49: 1-333. Stuttgart: J. Cramer.
Bednarek-Ochyra H. 1995. The genus Racomitrium (Musci, Grimmiaceae) in Poland: taxonomy, ecology, and phytogeography. Fragmenta Floristica et Geobotanica Series Polonica 2: 3-307.
Frisvoll AA. 1983. A taxonomic revision of the Racomitrium canescens group (Bryophyta, Grimmiales). Gunneria 41: 1-181.
Frisvoll AA. 1988. A taxonomic revision of the Racomitrium heterostichum group (Bryophyta, Grimmiales) in N. and C. America, N. Africa, Europe and Asia. Gunneria 59: 1-289.
Greven HC. 1995. Grimmia Hedw. (Grimmiaceae, Musci) in Europe. 160 pp. Leiden: Backhuys Publishers.
Hedenäs L. 1989. The genera Scorpidium and Hamatocaulis, gen. nov., in northern Europe. Lindbergia 15: 8-36.
Maier E, Geissler P. 1995. Grimmia in Mitteleuropa: ein Bestimmungsschlüssel. Herzogia 11: 1-80.


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