Bryological workshop 1997: University of East London

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15 November 1997 - 16 November 1997

Workshop report

Nine members attended this meeting at the University of East London on 15-16 November at which Mark Hill took the opportunity to review taxonomic problems in the genus Sphagnum, particularly in the light of the work of Flatberg on the much more extensive and variable continental populations – giving us an erudite breakdown of the problems engendered by inconsistent lumping and splitting, and by using characters that apply well enough to British plants but fall down in the case of American or in some cases continental material of supposedly the same taxa. Galvanised and inspired by the meeting on the Saturday, for which he had gathered a large quantity of illustrative living material, Mark then spent the Sunday revising the Sphagnum list in preparation for the second edition of Tony Smith’s Moss Flora.

Participants were pleased to meet and welcome Allan Green, who popped over from New Zealand, via Germany, at just the right moment to attend the meeting, and who needed little persuasion to give us a fascinating account of the mass propagation and production of Sphagnum (dried) for the Japanese market, collected by the helicopter load from the bogs along the narrow but very wet west coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

Finally, Ken Adams summarised the distinguishing characters separating our two Leucobryum taxa, based on a study of the two species in Epping Forest over many years, and attempted to unravel the confusion engendered by conflicting descriptions in the literature. In discussing Yamaguchi’s recent revision of the Asiatic taxa in the genus it became clear that our two species are much more closely circumscribed than Yamaguchi’s sensu lato aggregate of L. juniperoideum. His Asiatic ‘L. glaucum’ has setae in the range 8-11 mm, about the range of our L. juniperoideum, whereas our material of L. glaucum has setae roughly double that length. Similarly, Asiatic material of the two species is said to have capsules of roughly the same size, at 1.5-1.6 mm, whereas our L. glaucum has capsules on average twice the size of those of L. juniperoideum. Thus the crucial characters that we use to satisfactorily separate our two Leucobryums would seemingly not work on Asiatic material.

Ken Adams


University of East London