Lothians Group: Introduction to mosses and liverworts

HomeEventsLothians Group: Introduction to mosses and liverworts

21 October 2023 (10:30 - 14:30)

An introduction to the mosses and liverworts of the Dells to mark National Moss Day.

Meeting details

A meeting for complete beginners to the world of mosses and liverworts. Meet outside the Water of Leith Centre, 24 Lanark Road, Edinburgh EH14 1TQ at 10:30. The meeting should finish by 14:30. Please bring a hand lens and packed lunch and wear suitable clothing and footwear.

Please book at place by emailing David Adamson davidadamson32@gmail.com

Meeting report

National Moss Day – Water of Leith
VC83 Midlothian
21 October 2023 10:30 – 14:30
Leaders: David Adamson & Neil Bell

Although today’s meeting was aimed at complete beginners, most of the Water of Leith volunteers had looked at Bryophytes as part of their riverside vegetation surveys.  In addition to Neil Bell and myself, seven from the Water of Leith and three others met in Water of Leith Centre in Edinburgh where Neil gave an introductory presentation on bryophyte biology and habitats.

As the wind and rain of Storm Babet had abated, we left the Centre and crossed the road into Craiglockhart Dell to look at mosses and liverworts in situ. Our first stop was in a grove of mossy trees reminiscent of the Atlantic rainforest shown in Neil’s presentation. Using hand lenses the budding bryologists tried to distinguish acrocarpous from pleurocarpous mosses, not always easy with very wet mosses in low light. Most of the trees also had patches of thallose Metzgeria liverworts. The only leafy liverwort found here was a tiny patch of Radula complanata. The group seemed engrossed and needed some prompting to move on to the next stop which was a moss-covered log. This log was ideal for pointing out a range of pleurocarpous mosses, a fine stand of Polytrichum, some tufts of Dicranum scoparium, and the earth-scented Lophocolea bidentata liverwort.

Crossing Bogs Bridge took us to a meadow looked after by several of the Water of Leith Volunteers. The flowering plants had been cut back at the end of summer and we found epiphytic species such as Lewinskya affinis and Cryphaea heteromalla on a small group of willows. The tufts of Lewinskya contrasted with the blanket covering of tree trunks by Hypnum and Metzgeria at our first stop. On some rocks were a range of acrocarps, and some common pleurocarps plus Plagiomnium undulatum were thriving on the ground.

A little further upriver are some bare areas where water-related work had been carried out a couple of years ago. These areas were dominated by fruiting acrocarps, particularly Bryum dichotomum and Barbula unguiculata which we had not until now.

After lunch we walked back towards the Centre, stopping on the way to admire and contrast the acrocarps growing on the flat concrete top of a wall that separates a busy road from the Union canal. By now most of us were “mossed out”, so our recap and recommendations back at the Centre were fairly brief.

Many thanks to Neil Bell for helping to make this introductory session a success, and to the Water of Leith Conservation Trust for providing the Education Room and facilities.

David Adamson, October 2021


Water of Leith Centre, 24 Lanark Road, Edinburgh EH14 1TQ