Annual meeting 1960: Oswestry

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7 April 1960 - 12 April 1960

Meeting report

The Easter meeting of the Society was held at Oswestry in Shropshire, from 7 to 12 April. The centre was chosen to combine visits to the famous Shropshire Meres and Mosses with relatively easy access to Welsh Border country. Although the number of members present fluctuated throughout the week forty-three attended some part of the excursions.

7 April. The first excursion, in sunny weather, was to the limestone quarries and rocky outcrops of Llanymynech Hill, south-west of Oswestry. Mr Charles Sinker, Warden of Preston Montford Field Centre, gave the party much local information throughout the meeting, and on this occasion explained the niceties of the boundaries of v.c.’s 40 and 47. Many species characteristic of rock crevices were growing in the old quarries, including Seligeria doniana (47)*, S. calcarea, Tortula muralis var. rupestris, Fissidens viridulus (47)* and Funaria muehlenbergii (47)*. Madotheca platyphylla, Scapania aspera (47)*, Zygodon viridissimus var. stirtonii (40), Bryum erythrocarpum (47)*, Trichostomum crispulum (47)*, Mnium affine and M. stellare were also recorded. Examination of deeply shaded limestones revealed Marchesinia mackaii in some quantity, also Pedinophyllum interruptum (47)*. Other interesting species from members’ lists feature Bryum canariense var. provinciale (47)*, Cephaloziella hampeana (40)*, Leiocolea mulleri (40 and 47)*, Lophozia excisa (47)* and Barbilophozia barbata (47)*. Collections of the bryophytes on soil produced Dicranella schreberiana, Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum (40)*, and in broken limestone turf Ditrichum flexicaule var. densum (47) with Thuidium philibertii (47)*. Several bryophytes were fruiting abundantly on tree-shaded limestone boulders, including Camptothecium sericeum, C. lutescens and Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus.

8 April. A visit was made to two of the famous Mosses east of Oswestry, Whixall Moss and Wem Moss. The weather was cold with a little rain on this occasion. In the morning the party left the cars by the Shropshire Union Canal after crossing a fine specimen of a counterbalanced bridge, and walked on to Whixall Moss, bearing west past the isolated trees of Oaf’s Orchard. Mr Sinker directed us to the famous locality for Dicranum bergeri, which we discovered has been damaged by fire, and only a small amount of material was in good condition. Odontoschisma denudatum (40)* and Mylia anomala were also found in the bog with many species of Sphagnum. Other species noted were Lepidozia setacea and Dicranella cerviculata from the peaty sides of drainage ditches. The party then drove to Wem Moss where lunch was taken. The bog proved rich in Sphagnum species including S. cuspidatum, S. fimbriatum, S. tenellum, S. compactum, S. subsecundum, S. plumulosum, S. papillosum, S. recurvum and the rare S. pulchrum. Amongst the Sphagna the liverworts Lepidozia setacea, Calypogeia sphagnicola (40)*, Odontoschisma denudatum (40)*, O. sphagni, and C. muelleriana (40)* were found.

On the way back to Oswestry the party called at White Mere, southeast of Ellesmere, but the lake margin proved most disappointing; continuing to Crose Mere, near the village of Kenwick, the water’s edge was much less paper-strewn and several things of interest were found. Physcomitrium pyriforme was plentiful on soil in the field adjoining the Mere. Bryophytes of the vegetation at the water’s edge included Eurhynchium speciosum, usually at the base of tussocks of Carex paniculata, Acrocladium cuspidatum, Amblystegium juratzkanum, Hygroamblystegium tenax and Leptodictyum riparium.

9 April. The third excursion was to Pennant Melangell near Llangynog west of Oswestry; the day was sunny and breezy. Some members collected in Nant Achlas, a valley west of Pennant Melangell; most, however, concentrated on the main Cwm. Along the wooded stream margins, below the falls in Blaen y Cwm, several interesting epiphytes were seen including Orthotrichum affine, O. lyellii, O. stramineum and O. striatum, all with capsules. Also present on the trees were Neckera pumila, Leucodon sciuroides, Tortula laevipila, Orthotrichum pulchellum (47)* and a single patch of Ptilidium pulcherrimum (47)*. After careful searching Tortula subulata var. subinermis (47)* was discovered on moist tree boles. On the rocks at the stream edge Hyocomium flagellare was collected, a species rare within the valley. Nowellia curvifolia (47)* occurred on dead wood.

Among the bryophytes of the rocky outcrops on the upper slopes were Oedipodium griffithianum (47)*, Cynodontium bruntonii, Fissidens osmundoides, Seligeria recurvata (47)*, Oligotrichum hercynicum, Lepidozia pearsonii, Calypogeia neesiana var. neesiana (47)*, Polytrichum alpinum (47)* and Plagiobryum zierii. Interesting plants collected near the waterfall on wet east-facing rocks included Preissia quadrata (47)*, Hygrohypnum ochraceum, Ctenidium molluscum var. robustum, and Breutelia chrysocoma On drier boulders abundant Antitrichia curtipendula was found and specimens of Grimmia hartmanii (47)*, and Trichostomum brachydontium var. littorale (47)*. Lophozia silvicola (47)*, L. alpestris (47)*, Riccardia multifida, R, sinuata (47)*, Calypogeia arguta, Lophozia incisa, L. floerkii and Tritomaria quinquedentata were also recorded from the upper rocky outcrops. Species from Nant Achlas valley include Funaria attenuata, from wet sandy banks, Ptilidium pulcherrimum on birch trees, and Anastrepta orcadensis (47)* growing on steep grassy slopes at 1200 ft. Also, on sandy banks, were patches of Dicranella subulata (47)* and another interesting find was Acrocladium sarmentosum (47)* in a marsh at 1250 ft.

The lists produced by members for the area indicate the rarity of Lejeunea spp. and the absence of such species as Plagiochila spinulosa.

10 April. No excursions were planned for Sunday, but several members visited Nant-y-ffrith and several new v.c. records were made. Orthodontium lineare (50)*, Cirriphyllum piliferum*, Ditrichum heteromallum*, Eurhynchium praelongum var. stokesii*, Isopterygium depressum* and Polytrichum commune*, all in v.c. 51.

11 April. In excellent weather Breidden hill, a dolerite mass south of Oswestry, was visited. Fine views of the Shropshire countryside were enjoyed as the party explored the north-facing slopes. Of particular interest was Bartramia stricta, a very restricted southern species, which was present in some quantity in the sterile state. Several patches of fruiting material were also seen. The vertical shaded basic rocks produced Targionia hypophylla, Fissidens pusillus (47)*, Frullania fragilifolia, Isopterygium depressum. On pockets of soil another southern species, Scleropodium illecebrum, was found by several members. Characteristic of the stones below the vertical faces of rock were Orthotrichum rupestre (47)*, and Philonotis capillaris. Mixed woodland occupies much of the intermediate slope of the north side of the hill, the upper part being open. Calcifuge plants such as Barbilophozia attenuata (47)* and Campylopus fragilis were present in the ground-flora; Metzgeria fruticulosa (47)* was epiphytic on deciduous trees. Several Grimmias were collected from exposed rocks, G. funalis (47)*, G. retracta (47)* being new v.c. records. Lophozia excisa is reported from soil covered rocks by one member, and also Campylopus subulatus from thin earth on open ledges.

Lophozia alpestris (40) and Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum (40)* were recorded on Corndon Hill (V.C. 47) by several members, who, enjoying the afternoon sunshine, returned to Oswestry by a long detour. They also discovered Fissidens exilis (47)* near Trinity Well, Long Mountain, and Riccia fluitans (47)* in the Shropshire Union Canal north of Buttington. The canal bank proved interesting and Fissidens incurvus (47 )* and Bryum erythrocarpum (47)* appear in the collections.

12 April. The limestone area of west-facing cliffs known as Eglwyseg Rocks, near Llangollen, provided an interesting final day to the excursions. Unfortunately the weather was cold with a little rain. The bryophytes recorded from the limestone include Neckera crispa, Porella laevigata (50)*, P. cordeana, all in shaded places, Grimmia orbicularis, Trichostomum brachydontium var. cophocarpum on exposed boulders, and Barbula reflexa from limestone soil. Above the limestone cliffs amongst Calluna, Leptodontium flexifolium was found, and along the stream sides Orthothecium intricatum, Cratoneuron commutatum var. virescens (50)*, Aplozia riparia and Hypnum patientiae. The same area also produced Lophozia barbata and Blepharostoma trichophyllum (50)*. At the north end of the valley, World’s End, several records of interest were made, including Weissia crispata, Barbula rigidula, and Riccardia palmata (50)*.

On the return journey to Oswestry several members stopped at the bank of the Dee near Chain Bridge and plants of interest reported in their lists include Amblystegium varium (50)*, Tortula subulata var. subinermis (50)* on waterside trees, Lejeunea cavifolia (50)*, and several Grimmias, G. commutata, G. retracta and G. trichophylla, on rocky outcrops.

On behalf of all the members who attended the meeting, I should like to thank Dr E. F. Warburg and Mr A. J. E. Smith for the excellent organization of both the accommodation and the excursions. Even though no plants of exceptional interest were seen, many members found and saw species new to them and all thoroughly enjoyed this skilfully planned Easter Meeting. Our thanks too go to Mr C. Sinker, Warden of Preston Montford Field Centre, whose knowledge of the Oswestry area proved so valuable to the Society.

David Briggs