Annual meeting 1959: Wells

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2 April 1959 - 8 April 1959

Meeting report

The Spring Meeting this year was held at Wells, Somerset, from 2 to 8 April, with the intention of working the Mendips and the neighbouring region. It was attended by between thirty and forty members, and opened with an informal meeting at the Headquarters, the Star Hotel, Wells. At this meeting it was learnt that the organizer of the excursions, Mr Peter Hunt, would be unable to be present as he had just taken up a post at Kew. Mrs Paton, however, reported that he had given her all the necessary information, and had also made arrangements with a local acquaintance, Miss E. Overend of Frome, who would give all possible help.

Friday, 3 April. In the morning the Society visited Whitesheet Hill near Maiden Bradley. The area is mainly chalk grassland with an old chalk-pit which has been recolonized. After the boundary between V.C. 6 and V.C. 8 had been pointed out the party split into small groups, working as far as possible in V.C. 6. Acrocladium cuspidatum, Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus and several species of Barbula (B. rigidula, B. fallax and B. hornschuchiana) were found, as well as other mosses usual in such a habitat. Weissia crispata was found in the old chalk-pit and also a few hepatics such as Leiocolea turbinata and Metzgeria fruticulosa. The most interesting find, however, was Seligeria calcarea (new to V.C. 6) on stones in the turf.

After lunch the party moved to Alfred’s Tower to visit woods on acid soil on the Greensand escarpment. Again most of the work was in V.C. 6 but a few members strayed into V.C. 8 and established a new record for that vice county by finding Orthodontium lineare* well established on rotting branches. In the woods in V.C. 6 the dominant moss was Mnium hornum, but others seen included Bryum capillare, B. caespiticium and Tetraphis pellucida. A stunted form of Bryum pallens was also found in the rides. A noteworthy hepatic was Lejeunea ulicina on the trees, while Fossombronia pusilla and Riccardia sinuata were also found.

[* = New v.c. record]

Saturday, 4 April. The Society was due to visit Ebbor Gorge (under the leadership of Dr F. Rose) and Rodney Stoke Nature Reserve. The latter, however, was reported to be overgrown with brambles and it was decided to spend the whole day at the Gorge, a thickly wooded ravine on Carboniferous Limestone. The success of the day’s trip fully justified this decision as many noteworthy finds were made. Fruiting specimens of Orthotrichum lyellii were found on an ash trunk near the Gorge. The limestone rocks of the Gorge provided interesting material. Weissia crispata, Grimmia orbicularis, Funaria muehlenbergii, Isothecium striatulum (, Bryum canariense var. provinciale, B. pallens and Riccia sorocarpa were found on exposed rocks and ledges, while Gymnostomum calcareum and Plagiothecium succulentum were found in the shade. Other mosses found in the Gorge included Mnium stellare, M. cuspidatum, Scorpiurum circinatum, Eurynchium striatum, Isothecium myosuroides, Tortella tortuosa, T. nitida (in the crevices of the limestone chips), Grimmia pulvinata (on the limestone chips), Tortula subulata, Fissidens bryoides, F. adianthoides, Homalia trichomanoides (, Anomodon viticulosus, Rhynchostegiella pallidirostra, R. tenella, R. teesdalei, Eurynchium megapolitanum, Campylium protensum, C. chrysophyllum, Trichostomum sinuosum, T. crispulum, Dicranum fuscescens, and Cirriphyllum crassinervium. Among the hepatics found were Reboulia hemisphaerica, Riccia sorocorpa, Metzgeria conjugata, Porella laevigata, Marchesinia mackaii, Cololejeunea rossettiana, Lophozia bicrenata, Scapania aspera, and Nowellia recurvifolia*, while in the thin turf in the rough pasture above the Gorge there was Cepholoziella stellulifera, a decidedly rare hepatic with a south-western distribution. Specimens of Weissia controversa, Funaria fascicularis and Pleuridium acuminatum were also found in these fields. Some members also visited Wookey where they found Tortula laevipila, Zygodon viridissimus and Brachythecium velutinum.

In the evening the Annual General Meeting was held in the Star Hotel, Wells.

Sunday, 5 April, a trip was made to the Eastern Mendips. In the morning the area worked was Shepton Forest and the neighbouring Downhead Common (grassy heath and bog on Old Red Sandstone). Several species of Sphagnum were found on the boggy ground, including S. palustre, S. recurvum, S. subsecundum var. inundatum* and S. subsecundum var. auriculatum. Associated with this damp ground and the neighbouring stream were Polytrichum commune, Amblystegium filicinum (on stones in the stream), Eurynchium riparioides, Pseudoscleropodium purum, Hygroamblystegium tenax. On neighbouring roots of trees Cryphaea heteromalla and Amblystegium juratzkanum were found, while the hepatic Ptilidium pulcherrimum* was on the damp tree trunks. Other species found on trees included Hypnum cupressiforme var. filiforme, Dicranoweissia cirrata, Ulota crispa, Metzgeria fruticulosa, Lejeunea ulicina and Lophocolea heterophylla. In the litter among the tall bracken Plagiothecium denticulatum was found. Another new record was P. succulentum.

A nearby disused Silurian andesite quarry was also visited. Hedwigia ciliata*, Rhacomitrium aquaticum*, R. heterostichum*, Grimmia trichophylla, and Tortula subulata were found on the rocks and Polytrichum urnigerum on the floor of the quarry.

After lunch the party proceeded to Asham Wood, the largest ash wood on the Mendips. Ulota crispa and Orthotrichum affine were abundant on the trees and other mosses found included Ulota phyllantha*, Neckera pumila, Cryphaea heteromalla, Hookeria lucens, Orthotrichum lyellii, O. striatum, O. pulchellum*, Hylocomium brevirostre, Rhodobryum roseum (on damp Soil), Plagiothecium latebricola (on old hazel stools), Mnium undulatum, M. stellatum, Isothecium myurum, Cirriphyllum piliferum, Eurynchium praelongum and Homalia trichomanoides. Among the Liverworts found were Riccia sorocarpa, Fossombronia pusilla, Lejeunea ulicina, Radula complanata, Metzgeria fruticulosa, Riccardia pinguis, Calypogeia muelleriana, Trichocolea tomentella, and Chiloscyphus polyanthos var. rivularis. It was noticed during the afternoon that the Ulota crispa on the lower branches and trunks of trees was dead or in very poor condition, while the Orthotrichum affine in the same position was flourishing.

Monday, 6 April. The Society turned its attention to the western extension of the Mendips and visited Brean Down (Carboniferous Limestone). Among the hepatics were Riccia sorocarpa, Riccardia sinuata and Frullania tamarisci. In the limestone turf the following mosses were seen: Tortella flavovirens, T. nitida, Tortula intermedia, T. muralis, Encalypta vulgaris, Grimmia pulvinata, G. apocarpa, Zygodon stirtoni, Aloina aloides, A. ambigua, Pottia lanceolata, Pleurochaete squarrosa, Weissia crispa, Funaria muehlenbergii, Orthotrichum cupulatum. After lunch the party moved to Berrow Dunes, near the coast. Unfortunately the high wind made things very difficult on the sand, but the following mosses were found; Tortula ruraliformis, Tortella flavovirens, Bryum inclinatum and Brachythecium albicans.

Leaving the coast, the party travelled inland to Shapwick Heath, a peat bog which is still being worked for agricultural peat. Sphagnum papillosum could be seen in the cut peat, and other species found were S. plumulosum and S. palustre. Interesting mosses included Aulacomnium androgynum (in fruit), and Orthodontium lineare* (both on peaty banks), Campylopus fragilis, C. introflexus*, Brachythecium salebrosum, Climacium dendroides and Tetraphis pellucida. Among the liverworts were Chiloscyphus pallescens, Ricciocarpus natans and Calypogeia fissa. There was also an interesting plant of Cephalozia pleniceps which seems to be var. macrantha although this has been deleted from the new Annotated List.

In the evening several members visited Wells Museum, by kind invitation of the Curator, and spent a pleasant hour studying the exhibits.

Tuesday, 7 April. This was the last day of the meeting for most members present. The party travelled northwards to Burrington Combe where a variety of habitats was found. On the exposed rocks on the Carboniferous Limestone slopes were found Grimmia orbicularis and Bryum canariense var. provinciale (, while in the turf there were Breutelia chrysocoma, Trichostomum brachydontium (, Anomodon viticulosus, Pseudoscleropodium purum, Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus, and Hylocomium splendens. In the stream and on the neighbouring rocks and damp ground were Rhynchostegiella teesdalei, Bryum pallens, Philonotis fontana, Gymnostomum calcareum, Eurynchium riparioides and Pellia epiphylla. On the acid heath above the limestone slopes were found Barbula fallax, B. convoluta, Pohlia nutans, Philonotis capillaris*, Pleurozium schreberi, Polytrichum juniperinum, P. nanum and Pleuridium acuminatum. Hepatics included Lophocolea bidentata, Diplophyllum albicans, Nardia scalaris, Saccogyna viticulosa and Cephaloziella rubella*. On damp ground near the streams on the Old Red Sandstone there were Dichodontium pellucidum, Heterocladium heteropterum var. fallax and Cephaloziella stelullifera (it is interesting to note that this rare hepatic was found twice during the meeting).

After lunch Goblin Combe was visited. This is a wooded limestone valley. Mosses found included Rhodobryum roseum on the damp soil, Barbula trifaria, Hylocomium brevirostre and an abundant growth of Thamnium alopecurum, Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus and Thuidium tamariscinum. On the limestone rocks there were Isothecium striatulum ( and Gymnostomum calcareum. The hepatics included Frullania tamarisci, Plagiochila asplenioides var. major, Scapania gracilis, Porella platyphylla and Marchesinia mackaii. Some members later went on to Walton-in-Gordano where Bryum canariense var. provinciale was seen on the limestone rocks and Ceratodon chloropus in the turf, together with Funaria fascicularis.

Wednesday, 8 April. The few remaining members visited the Cheddar Gorge. Species seen included Eucladium verticillatum, Isopterygium pulchellum, Gymnostomum calcareum, Fissidens viridulus and Bryum canariense var. provinciale; the last two were locally abundant. Hepatics included Reboulia hemisphaerica, Marchesinia mackaii and Cololejeunea rossettiana.

In conclusion, it remains to thank all who contributed to the success of this meeting; Mr Peter Hunt for the highly efficient organization, Mrs Paton for acting as leader in the absence of Mr Hunt, Miss Overend for so willingly placing her local knowledge at the disposal of the Society and all those members who allowed their cars to be used for the excursions. Finally the writer would like to thank all members who sent him copies of their lists.

Autumn Meeting 1959, Cockermouth, 29 August-5 September

The autumn meeting of the Society was held at Cockermouth in Cumberland from 29 August to 5 September and was attended by eleven members.

The first excursion, on Sunday, 30 August, was to Shoulthwaite Gill, a calcareous rocky stream with small waterfalls and gorges. In the immediate vicinity of the streams several interesting species were found including Hygrobiella laxifolia, Plagiochila tridenticulata, Scapania subalpina, Radula lindbergiana, Cololejeunea calcarea, Aphanolejeunea microscopica, Sphagnum contortum, S. girgensohnii, S. warnstorfianum, S. russowii, Barbula ferruginascens, Leptodontium flexifolium, Grimmia torquata, G. patens, Bartramia halleriana, Orthothecium intricatum and Ptilium crista-castrensis. A few members made towards the peat moorland of High Seat above the Gill, but the ground was so dry that little was found. Before returning to Cockermouth a quick visit was made to Raise Beck just over the border in Westmorland where Hygrobiella laxifolia and Hygrohypnum dilatatum were seen.

Monday was spent on the precipitous north face of the Hay Stacks, southeast of Buttermere and on ground above Honister Crags. A stream on the Hay Stacks proved very fruitful and produced Metzgeria hamata, Herberta hutchinsiae, Hygrobiella laxifolia, Eremonotus myriocarpus*, Marsupella funckii, M. stableri, Plagiochila tridenticulata, Cephaloziella pearsonii, Radula aquilegia, Lejeunea lamacerina var. azorica*, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Harpalejeunea ovata, Colura calyptrifolia, Frullania germana, F. microphylla, Arctoa fulvella, Dicranum blyttii (Honister), Campylopus schwarzii, C. setifolius, Barbula ferruginascens, Rhacomitrium ellipticum, Oedipodium griffithianum, Hygrohypnum dilatatum, Hypnum hamulosum and H. callichroum.

The morning of the third day was spent in the limestone valley of Parkend Beck to the west of Caldbeck where Fissidens rufulus was found. Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum* was seen in an arable field between Caldbeck and Howk. Part of the afternoon was spent downstream to the west of Caldbeck where Metzgeria pubescens, Fissidens rufulus and Isopterygium depressum were seen. Scapania irrigua and Dicranella varia were found on the track leading to the stream. On the way to Cockermouth a detour was made to a bog near Greystoke to see Drepanocladus vernicosus, and Mnium pseudopunctatum and Acrocladium giganteum were also noted.

On Wednesday morning a visit was made to Classon Moss in north Cumberland. Warnings about the necessity of waterproof footwear were found to be quite unfounded, the bog being very dry, although the bryophytes were still in a good state. The edge of the bog had been spoilt by peat cuttings, but in the untampered parts there were seen Odontochisma denudatum*, Cladopodiella fluitans, Sphagnum pulchrum, S. fuscum and Dicranum bergeri, and after diligent searching Calypogeia sphagnicola was found to be abundant. After lunch members made their way to an attractive sandstone gorge near Brampton which had not been seriously bryologized in recent years. In the gorge itself the most interesting find was Fissidens exiguus*, together with Leiocolea bantriensis, Solenostoma atrovirens var. sphaerocarpoidea. Cololejeunea rossettiana, Fissidens pusillus and F. rufulus, and large quantities of Tetraphis browniana and Gyroweissia tenuis fruiting upside down under shaded ledges. Above the gorge on soil-capped ledges of the Written Rock of Gelt Amblystegiella sprucei and Mnium stellare were seen with what was perhaps the most interesting hepatic find of the week, Lepidozia sylvatica*.

Thursday was a day of short visits, the first being to a beck on the north-west side of High Snockrigg near Buttermere. Here were found a large assortment of Marsupellas, most of which turned out to be M. emarginata with a few patches of M. aquatica. There was considerable quantity of Cephaloziella pearsonii, together with Cynodontium jenneri, Solenostoma sphaerocarpum and Douinia ovata. The next visit was to Scales Wood and Burtness Wood above Buttermere. In the former Riccardia palmata*, Lophozia ventricosa var. silvicola* and Tritomaria exsecta were seen, and in the latter Barbilophozia atlantica. Members then moved on to Borrowdale Yews; this wood is situated in what is reputed to be the wettest part of the British Isles, but everything was parched and there was much difficulty in identifying various liverworts that were the cause of the visit. Despite the arid conditions Plagiochila tridenticulata, Adelanthus decipiens, Radula lindbergiana, Lejeunea patens*, Harpalejeunea ovata and Bartramia halleriana were seen.

The last day was spent in Glencoynedale, Westmorland, in the hope of finding Barbula icmadophila which is recorded from there, but without success. However, after a very long hot climb the following plants of interest were found, Hygrobiella laxifolia, Marsupella funkii, Cephaloziella hampeana*, C. starkei, Encalypta ciliata, Barbula ferruginascens, Coscinodon cribrosus, Grimmia funalis, G. torquata and Funaria attenuata. In Glencoyne Wood Sphenolobus hellerianus, Lejeunea ulicina, L. lamacerina and Bartramia halleriana were noted.

On two evening excursions to the south-west end of Bassenthwaite Water Mnium cinclidioides on the shores of the lake and Coscinodon cribrosus on a nearby wall were seen. Two members spent an extra day in Borrowdale, and the following additional species of interest were seen, Marchesinia mackaii, Lejeunea lamacerina*, Jubula hutchinsae, Campylopus subulatus, Orthotrichum striatum, Plagiothecium roeseanum and Sematophyllum novae-caesareae.

Despite the exceptionally fine dry weather all members present were rewarded with finds of species that they had not seen before, but not many new county records were made as the county has already been well worked. Thanks are due to Dr D. A. Ratcliffe whose knowledge of the district was an invaluable help, and to Mrs J. A. Paton upon whom the burden of organizing the excursion fell, and who carried out this task most successfully.

Symposium Meeting 1959, Birmingham, 7-8 November

A meeting organized by Mr S. W. Greene was held during the weekend of 7 and 8 November, 1959, in the Botany Department of the University of Birmingham (by kind permission of Dr C. J. Hickman). Apologies for absence were received from the President and from the Secretary. Prof. D. G. Catcheside took the chair on the Saturday, when the following papers were read:

Dr D. H. DALBY: ‘Pores and fibrils in Sphagnum and their value to the taxonomist’.

The wide range of pore and fibril forms seen in the leaf and stem cells was demonstrated by photomicrographs made from stained material. These included a series explaining Russow’s classification of pore types in the leaf cells. Environmental modification of the normal pattern was seen in S. imbricatum, S. cuspidatum and S. subsecundum var. rufescens. The paper concluded with reference to leaf ontogeny in S. palustre, emphasizing the need for developmental and physiological studies for the elucidation of the variation seen in the pore and fibril patterns.

Mr S. W. GREENE: ‘Problems of fruiting behaviour in mosses’. See B.B.S. Trans. 3, pt. 5, p. 736.

Dr E. V. WATSON: ‘Studies in the Bryophytes of Chalk Grassland’.

Dr Watson gave an account of some quantitative work that he had done on Nature Reserves in Sussex, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Dorset and Kent. Point contact ‘frames’ and abundance estimates in 20 cm. squares were employed at regularly spaced sampling sites along Nature Conservancy permanent transect lines which could be revisited at a future time. These methods confirmed Pseudoscleropodium purum as the outstandingly abundant species in chalk grassland and revealed, among other things, interesting contrasts between north-facing and south-facing slopes. Rhytidiadelphus species were confined to the former; Camptothecium lutescens was much more abundant on the latter type of slope.

Dr H. L. R. WHITEHOUSE, and Dr D. E. COOMBE: ‘A new species of Tortula from Cornwall’.

In March 1958 a species of Tortula, apparently allied to T. marginata (Bry. Eur.) Spruce, was found at the Lizard, Cornwall. It differs from that species in occurring on the ground and in having shorter, broader leaves with a shorter apiculus and with marginal teeth near the leaf-apex. Archegonia have been found, but no antheridia or sporophytes. The plant is a winter annual at the Lizard, possibly surviving the summer as rounded protonemal cells.

Dr F. Rose was unable to read his paper.

After dinner a conversazione was held in the Botany Department where the following exhibits were laid out: ‘Stages in the Maturity Cycle, as illustrated by Mnium hornum’, (S. W. Greene); ‘Polysety in Polytrichum commune’, (W. S. Lacey); ‘Progress in the revision of the Warwickshire Bryophyte Flora’ (T. Laflin); ‘Paludella squarrosa, a specimen from Boreal-Atlantic Transition Peat Deposit (R. E. Longton); ‘Studies in Polytrichum formosum’ (P. J. Wanstall); ‘Ecological work on Bryophytes of Chalk Grassland’ (E. V. Watson); ‘A new species of Tortula from Cornwall’ (H. L. R. Whitehouse).

On Sunday a very pleasant day was spent in the Wyre Forest, a large area of Quercus petraea oakwood and planted soft woods on Upper Coal Measure Sandstone. Three areas in Worcestershire, V.C. 37, were visited. First, at the eastern end of the Forest near Dowles Manor House where fine Rhodobryum roseum was shown to the party. Secondly, the Forestry Commission area in the southern part of the forest, near the Service Tree (Sorbus domestica), where woodland rides were explored. Species seen included Riccia sorocarpa, Fossombronia wondraczekii, Cephaloziella starkei, Marsupella emarginata, Scapania irrigua, S. nemorosa, Pseudephemerum nitidum and Barbula hornschuchiana. After lunch and a beautiful drive to the north-east section, Cliff Wood, east of Pound Green was visited. Here Hypnum patientiae was found on a path. On the steep rocky banks of the stream Rhynchostegiella teesdalei, Heterocladium heteropterum Saccogyna viticulosa, Lejeunea lamacerina, and many typical oakwood plants were seen. Most of the party then returned to Bewdley for an excellent tea before returning to Birmingham for trains home.

It was unfortunate that the beginning of the meeting coincided with a bad spell of fog in the Midlands which prevented about half a dozen members from travelling to Birmingham; but in spite of the weather twenty-five members and about a dozen guests attended the meeting. Nearly twenty people visited the Wyre Forest.

Refreshments and transport during the meeting were very kindly provided by the University of Birmingham, and the success of the meeting was entirely due to Mr Greene and his wife for their excellent planning of the programme. It is hoped that other University members may be prepared to arrange similar meetings in the future.

Jean Paton