Friday, February 15, 2013

TQ6410 - Moss heaven or hell?

Confined to the cottage for almost a week, having shut myself away to belatedly finish last year's bird and butterfly survey write-ups plus a couple of outstanding butterfly reports. But a few sneaky moments would have found me thumbing the pages of RP's 'Grasses, Ferns, Mosses and Lichens of Great Britain and Ireland' this past week trying to ID loads of recent TQ6410 photos. It's a bit old now (well over thirty years in fact) but it's still the only book I've got in terms of mosses and lichens. At least it's a starting point for cross-referencing via a whole host of useful wildlife websites and photo galleries (including previous blogs on here of course). 

So hopefully starting with the (relatively) easy-to-ID species (bound to get them wrong now): Common feather moss  Eurhynchium praelongum (left) on a hidden tree stump in the little bluebell wood.  For what it's worth, Ordinary moss or Rough-stalked feather-moss Brachythecium rutabulum is also present in the same wood.

Grey-cushioned grimmia  Grimmia pulvinata  (left) one of several mosses (many even?) on the local church wall or around the churchyard and possibly Wall screw moss Tortula muralis out of the picture below it  .....

Talking of which .... Wall screw moss Tortula muralis  ditto - same old church, same old church wall .....

Then there's Silky wall feather moss Homalothecium sericeum (I think).... yet another one on the church wall as well as on one of the mysterious marker stones aka my plot boundary with the Herstmonceux Castle grounds. 

These mosses are in a chestnut coppice clearing .... think this is Neat feather moss Pseudoscleropodium purum ...... possibly with Common hair moss Polytrichum commune …… but there’s also a third moss in there too – the very pale and very fine-leaved species?  

Just a couple more plants to add this week: Common Water Starwort  Callitriche stegnalis (in a little pool under an old log near my plot). There are quite a few of these Water Starworts so I hope it's not an aggregate sp. This one's got pointy leaves .... which seems slightly different from all other photos I've seen on-line recently.  Lastly, and not before time, the bizarrely named Nipplewort Lapsana communis which is very common around the plot - and just about everywhere else too. So common, even I'm calling it a weed - which must be saying something. 
While I'm at it - two more common fungi on twigs and sticks in the bluebell wood: Peniophora quercina  (a lichen-like fungus on oak twigs, sticks and branches) and Peniophora lycii (another lichen-like fungus - this one's even more like a lichen) again, on various deciduous twigs and sticks in the bluebell wood .... and I had all that lot ear-marked as kindling for the wood-burner.

Slug-like progress onto 237 species. Which reminds me, I'm back at the plot (and square) for a day or two as from today ....... and the sun's shining!


  1. Hiya Mike, I'm very new at the mosses so don't take this as at all authoratitive!!! Regards your bottom pic, the big stuff looks like purum. Hold the tips up to the light and (through a lens!) you should see several tiny recurved tips, almost hairlike. The Polytrichum is prob good, but check Atrichum undulatum - I kept getting those mixed up until seen side by side. Polytrichum seems to grow in big cushions near me. Dunno about the other stuff in there. Sort of thing I steer well away from... Also, rather annoyingly, taxonomy has changed since your book. The top one is now Kindbergia praelonga. How the heck do they expect us to ever learn these damn mosses, lol.

  2. OK cheers Seth. The Atrichum and Polytrichum seem to have totally different shaped capsules so maybe I'll try and find this patch again and see if I can find any evidence. Want to photo that fine-leaved stuff again too while there - if I can ever find it all second time round. I've seen Polytrichum both singularly and in big cushions but was put off Atrichum by its rather lacklustre appearance from the specimen in the book .... but you never know. It's on my list of 'expect to find soon in this square' along with House Sparrow and Grey Squirrel .... yes, honestly!

  3. OK, quick change of heart after properly zooming in on your bottom pick. I don't think the big one is purum after all, the tips seem too loose and splayed. And the other one definitely isn't Atrichum! The only thing I maintain is that I really do have no idea of the third species! Good this moss stuff innit.... *quietly weeps into his moss book*...

  4. Have you checked Dicranum scoparium for the light green moss?