Devon Group: Torquay

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27 April 2024

Meeting report

Devon doesn’t have a lot of calcareous habitats, so the Devon Bryophyte Group’s meeting at Torquay was a great opportunity to see many species that are otherwise uncommon in the county.  Starting at Walls Hill Road, Mark Pool, who was leading, took the group down part of the South West Coast Path that was flanked along one side by exposed limestone. Here grew abundant Neckera crispa and Marchesinia mackaii, Plasteurhynchium striatulum and some small patches of the tiny Cololejeunea rossettiana were also located. Many other species normally mostly seen growing on mortar in urban situations were in their natural environment here. These included Fissidens dubius, Rhynchostegiella tenella and the diminutive Gymnostomum viridulum. The path then climbed back up through some trees to Walls Hill, and here there was plentiful Cirriphyllum crassinervium as well as a shoot of Plagiomnium rostratum.

Mark then took the group to the edge of the cliff, where the very rare Cheilothela chloropus grew in company with Scorpiurium circinatum and Porella arboris-vitae. There were many vascular plants here that are also of restricted distribution in Devon, which were much appreciated by the group.

After a diversion to see Hennediella macrophylla growing on a shaded path through an area of scrub and small trees, the day continued with a visit to the coast path east of Anstey’s Cove. Here another exposure of limestone was home for many of the species seen at the start of the meeting, but in addition Mesoptychia turbinata was found here. Neckera smithii was on a large ash further along towards Black Head, looking somewhat unfamiliar due to the recent rain. The dolerite of Black Head produced one or two common acidophiles, but the highlights hereabouts had to be Lophocolea fragrans, Plagiochila bifaria and Porella obtusata, the last growing rather surprisingly on a sheltered and shaded rock outcrop beside the path.

Tim Purches & Mark Pool, April 2024