Thursday, 12 December 2013

Bryophyte bonanza!

Gone are the days when I could see four new species of bird on the reserve in one day (or year), but yesterday at lunchtime I spent five minutes exploring an out of the way spot - a banking beside the wee pond - and came up with four new bryophytes. Who knows what else is there! The first thing that caught my eye was a banking of Atrichum undulatuim - Catherine's Moss. But as I was taking a sample I spotted an old tree stump which had been colonised by some interesting greenery.

First up was a fat thalloid liverwort which turned out to be Pellia epiphylla. This is a very common liverwort in the UK and our only monoecious one apparently. The "lady parts" (archegonia) are readily visible towards the tips in the large photo, and the male parts are discernible further up on the midrib on closer inspection (see micro photo further down).

Second on the tree stump was a patch of diaphanous Rhizomnium punctatum - Dotted Thyme-moss. Presumably the "dotted" epiphet comes from the male parts, none of which I saw (yet), but I really don't know. I never saw any dots. Just a nice paddle-like leaf with a nerve stretching to not quite the tip and a healthy helping of (untoothed) border.

Lastly, and only noticed at home, was a tiny leafy liverwort clinging to the big thalloid one. I think at the moment that it's Lophocolea heterophylla - Various-leaved Crestwort, but I'm still looking into it.

The double-toothed Atrichum undulatum
Smorgasbord, with Mnium hornum for good measure

Atrichum undulatum - so many teeth the leaf margins can't contain them

Pellia epiphylla - the male parts further up the plant on the midrib

Rhizomnium punctatum - cute pointy bit on the leaf tip (I forgot its proper name for the moment), and the smooth fat-bordered margin

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