Annual meeting 1957: Barnstaple

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24 April 1957 - 29 April 1957

Meeting report

The Easter Meeting was held in Barnstaple, Devon, from 24 to 29 April, and between thirty-five and forty members attended. Although not many new records were made, a number of species of rather limited distribution were encountered.

The following plants are new to North Devon, V.C. 4: Bryum erythrocarpum var. haegelmaieri, Campylium chrysophyllum, Cinclidotus mucronatus, Drepanocladus sendtneri var. wilsonii, Fissidens monguillonii, Fontinalis squamosa, Grimmia laevigata, Gyroweissia tenuis, Lejeunea lamacerina var. azorica, Porella pinnata.

25 April. The party travelled by coach to Clovelly, notable for access being solely by a long series of stone steps. The size of the empty car park above the village was an ominous reminder of conditions during the holiday season. Members split into groups to examine the steep cliffs and woods, in particular those on the Hobby to the south east of Clovelly. Damp slipped earth on the cliffs yielded Philonotis rigida, Epipterygium tozeri and two species of Anthoceros, A. laevis and a large plant which appears to be A. husnotii. Other plants found were Eucalyx hyalinus, Eucladium verticillatum, Frullania microphylla, Fissidens curnowii, Grimmia maritima, Lejeunea lamacerina var. azorica, Orthotrichum striatum, Plagiochila spinulosa, Saccogyna viticulosa, Trichostomum brachydontium and Ulota bruchii.

26 April. The Society next explored the woods and exposed sea cliffs between Hunter’s Inn and Woody Bay. In the lower part of the valley of the River Heddon Cinclidotus fontinaloides was found on stones in the river, Pleuridium acuminatum on bare sandy ground near the cliff top and Grimmia trichophylla on exposed rocks. Other species seen here were Cryphaea heteromalla, Bryum erythrocarpum var. haegelmaieri, Dicranum scottianum, Epipterygium tozeri, Schistostega osmundacea and Zygodon viridissimus var. occidentalis. On recently burned ground on the cliff top a small tussock of Sphagnum plumulosum was seen. At Hollow Brook, where a stream tumbles over a north-facing rock outcrop, there were extensive patches of Jubula hutchinsiae on the undersides of the rock ledges, and Heterocladium heteropterum on stones beside the stream. Other species seen nearby included Bartramia pomiformis, Cephalozia media, Scapania compacta and S. gracilis. Near Woody Bay, the great exposure was shown by an extensive yew wood adhering to an almost vertical cliff face, above being an oakwood where the maximum height of the trees was limited by the onshore winds. Species found at Woody Bay included Gyroweissia tenuis, Dichodontium pellucidum and Ulota bruchii.

27 April. The weather remained fine and sunny for our visit to Braunton Burrows. The party was guided over the dune system by Dr Willis, who kindly provided a list of bryophytes recorded from the area by the Botany Department at Bristol University. The slacks to the east of the dunes were visited first, and Bryum pendulum, Campylium chrysophyllum, C. polygamum, Drepanocladus lycopodioides, D. sendtneri var. wilsonii and Leiocolea turbinata were collected. Cryphaea heteromalla and Zygodon viridissimus were seen as epiphytes on willows. Slacks close to and amongst the unfixed dunes produced fine growths of fruiting Petalophyllum ralfsii, together with Moerckia flotowiana and Riccardia pinguis. A search for Amblyodon dealbatus and Bryum calophyllum was unfortunately unsuccessful. A few members also visited the locality for Barbula cordata at Saunton, where it was seen in some quantity associated with an interesting calcicole flora.

The Annual General Meeting was held in the evening at the Imperial Hotel, Barnstaple, in a room provided by the Management. Haverfordwest, Pembroke, was elected for the Spring Meeting in 1958, and Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, for the Summer Meeting.

28 April. The Society next turned its attentions to some inland localities, which though virtually unexplored bryologically had nevertheless produced a few promising species suggesting that more detailed collecting would be worth while. The first stop, in the valley of the River Mole, 1½ miles west of George Nympton, yielded numerous interesting plants including Fissidens monguillonii, F. curnowii, Fontinalis squamosa, Porella pinnata, Rhodobryum roseum and Ulota phyllantha. The coach next moved on towards Bias Wood,1½ miles north-west of King’s Nympton, but became almost wedged in a narrow Devonian lane, and the party was compelled to abandon its vehicle and proceed on foot. Bias Wood covers a steep north-facing slope extending down to the river, and especially in its lower part yielded an interesting flora. Luxuriant growths of Hookeria lucens grew on areas of flushed black humus-rich soil around shaded springs, associated with Riccardia pinguis and Trichocolea tomentella. A number of species were encountered by the river here, including Cinclidotus fontinaloides, C. mucronatus, Fissidens curnowii, Fossombronia sp., Orthotrichum lyellii and O. rivulare. Damp ground near a spring yielded Dicranella squarrosa and Philonotis fontana, whilst other species seen included Bazzania trilobata, Dicranum majus, Heterocladium heteropterum var. flaccidum, Metzgeria fruticulosa, Neckera pumila, Plagiothecium undulatum and Rhytidiadelphus loreus.

The Society was most grateful to Miss M. E. Owen, a local resident for guiding them during the day, and also for the lavish tea which she so kindly provided in the grounds of her bungalow. After this much appreciated refreshment, the party returned to the coach, which had by then most fortunately been extracted from the lane.

29 April. As many of the party returned home on the Sunday, there were insufficient remaining to justify the hiring of a coach, and members split into small groups to explore areas of their own choice. Those who visited the cliffs between Lee and Ilfracombe were rewarded with several interesting species, in spite of the dryness of the day, including Fissidens curnowii, Rhynchostegiella pallidirostra, Schistostega osmundacea and a crop of Grimmias – G. laevigata, G. subsquarrosa and G. trichophylla.

The Society’s thanks go to all who helped with the organization of the meeting, and especially to Mr Wallace and Mr Peterken. The writer is most grateful to those who sent lists of species collected during this visit to Barnstaple.

D. H. Dalby