Annual meeting 1950: Totnes, Devon

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13 April 1950 - 18 April 1950

Meeting report

The 1950 Annual Meeting was held in April at Totnes, Devonshire, and attended by about forty members.

The first excursion, on 13 April, was to the wooded valley of the River Dart. Members left the coaches at Holne Bridge, near Ashburton. and walked upstream to New Bridge, a distance of about three miles. The rocks of the river bed bore an interesting flora, including Grimmia alpicola var. rivularis. and small quantities of Madotheca porella, Isothecium holtii, Eurhynchium alopecurum and Fontinalis antipyretica var. gracilis.* The river-bank and nearby rocks yielded Diphyscium foliosum var. acutifolium, Cynodontium bruntonii, Fissidens curnowii, F. serrulatus, F. polyphyllus, Atrichum crispum, Eurhynchium praelongum var. stokesii, Lejeunea lamacerina, Blepharostoma trichophyllum, and a small patch of Plagiochila asplenioides in fruit. Neckera pumila in fruit and Metzgeria furcata var. fruticulosa were found on trees. Bryum murale was noticed at New Bridge, while above it were Aplozia pumila, A. tristis and Alicularia compressa. Aulacomnium androgynum and Calypogeia arguta were also seen during the excursion.

[* New to south Devon (V.C. 3).]

On the way back to Tomes the party stopped at Riverford Bridge, near Staverton, and walked upstream to look for Cryphaea lamayana, found here by Tozer a century ago ‘on stones in running water and on the stems of trees, frequently overflowed’. The site was unpromising, and no Cryphaea was seen. The river was evidently somewhat polluted by sewage at this point, and perhaps this may have exterminated it. Among the species seen here were Leucodon sciuroides, Eurhynchium swartzii var. rigidum* and E. megapolitanum.

The next day’s excursion was to Wistman’s Wood, on Dartmoor. This well-known oak wood is dominated by Quercus robur, growing under extremely unfavourable conditions, the trees being exceedingly gnarled and stunted, with their roots embedded between granite boulders. The wood was of greater ecological than bryological interest, but Rhytidiadelphus loreus was fruiting very freely, and Antitrichia curtipendula, which was plentiful, was also found in fruit, though hardly in the abundance reported by Dixon in the Handbook. The flora of the tree trunks and branches included Cephaloziella starkii, Douinia ovata and Plagiochila punctata. Lophozia attenuata* was noticed among Scapania gracilis on a boulder, and Dicranum scottianum was present in small quantity at the north end of the wood. Alicularia compressa was growing submerged in the Dart below the wood, and on the banks of the river were many species of Sphagnum and also Atrichum crispum and Polytrichum alpestre. On the moor nearby were found Campylopus flexuosus var. zonatus,* Leptodontium flexifolium, Rhabdoweissia denticulata, Thuidium delicatulum, Aplozia sphaerocarpa and, in a Leucobryum tussock, Cephaloziella subdentata.*

On 15 April the Society visited the coast to the south of Totnes and explored the cliffs between Bolt Tail and Salcombe. The cliffs were rather disappointingly dry, but nevertheless a number of interesting species were found. These included Madotheca laevigata var. thuja, Lophozia attenuata, Campylopus fragilis, C. introflexus, Pottia bryoides, P. crinita var. viridifolia, Bryum bicolor var. gracilentum, Scleropodium illecebrum and fruiting Archidium alternifolium. The rocks were well covered with species of Frullania and Grimmia, including F. fragilifolia, F. germana,* G. subsquarrosa and fruiting G. laevigata. Riccia sorocarpa* was seen on a footpath.

On the next day, Sunday, there was no organized excursion, and members made their own arrangements. The chief find of the day, and indeed of the meeting, was Fissidens monguilloni, new to the British Isles, found in fruit by Mr Norkett by the Dart at Staverton. Other members had satisfactory, though less sensational, finds. The banks of the lanes around Totnes bore an interesting flora including Lejeunea lamacerina, Fissidens algarvicus, Ditrichum cylindricum, Epipterygium tozeri, Schistostega pennata in fruit, Scleropodium caespitosum, Eurhynchium schleicheri and Scorpiurium circinatum. Also seen in the district were Cololejeunea rossettiana, Marchesinia mackaii, Leptodon smithii and Tortella nitida. Two members visited the limestone cliffs at Babbacombe, Torquay, and found Scapania aspera, Pottia starkeana, P. recta, Gymnostomum calcareum, Eucladium verticillatum and fruiting plants of Neckera crispa.

Up to this time the weather had been very fine and sunny, but on the Monday, when the Society visited the valley of the Teign at Fingle Bridge near Drewsteignton, it rained almost continuously. The Teign valley is here rather similar to that of the Dart, visited on the first day, and many of the same species were seen, including Isothecium holtii, fruiting Eurhynchium praelongum var. stokesii and a great profusion of Madotheca porella; but there were a number of additional species including Fissidens rivularis, Orthotrichum striatum, 0. rivulare, Rhodobryum roseum, Jubula hutchinsiae and fruiting plants of Frullania tamarisci. On the rocks of the valley side below the bridge there were several species of Grimmia. including G. subsquarrosa and G. montana, the latter fruiting freely in the only British locality from which fruit is known.

The last excursion, on 18 April, was to the Becka Falls near Manaton, on a tributary stream of the River Bovey. For most members the day was rather disappointing bryologically, though Miss Lobley made a very fine discovery, Nowellia curvifolia* on a rotting tree trunk. This is a considerable extension to the known range of this species in Britain, the nearest previously recorded localities being in north Wales. Among other species found were Aplozia tristis, Ditrichum cylindricum, Dicranella schreberi and Thamnium alopecurum in fruit.

The meeting was a great success owing to the excellent arrangements made by Mr Wallace and Mr Peterken, who most thoroughly deserved the thanks of members taking part for a most profitable and enjoyable week.

A. C. Crundwell


Totnes, Devon