Autumn meeting 1959: Birmingham

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7 November 1959 - 8 November 1959

Meeting report


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. K. 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).

Field excursion

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