Summer meeting 1953: Callander/Glencoe

HomeEventsSummer meeting 1953: Callander/Glencoe

25 July 1953 - 8 August 1953

Meeting report

The Summer meeting of the Society was held from 25 July to 8 August, the first week being spent at Callander, Perthshire, the second at Glencoe, Argyll. Owing partly to difficulties in obtaining accommodation only fifteen members participated. Fortunately five of them had cars, and very kindly provided transport.

The first day, Sunday, was wet. A morning visit to the Falls of Leny (V.C. 87) was not very productive. Eucalyx paroicus* was seen there, and Fissidens pusillus* and Ditrichum cylindricum* were gathered from the river bank just above the falls. Gleann Casaig, near Brig o’Turk, which was visited in the afternoon, proved equally barren and a great deal wetter. Lophozia alpestris was seen on a wall. New to V.C. 87 were Sphagnum plumulosum,* S. rubellum* and Dicranella heteromalla var. sericea.*

[* New vice-county record.]

Monday was spent at the Menstrie Glen, in the Ochil Hills. This too is in V.C. 87 (West Perth), though the Menstrie Burn forms the present-day boundary between Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire. There are well-authenticated old records from here of Targionia hypophylla and of several uncommon calcicoles; but the best areas must have been missed, for there was no sign of Targionia, and the only calcicoles seen were very ordinary. The more noteworthy finds were Lophozia hatcheri,* Leucodon sciuroides and Zygodon viridissimus var. vulgaris* on an ash trunk, Fissidens pusillus, Bartramia pomiformis var. crispa, and a great abundance of Cynodontium bruntonii.

One excursion was to Inversnaid, Stirlingshire (V.C. 86), on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. The weather was only showery, which is better than usual for Inversnaid. Isothecium holtii was abundant on rocks in the bed of the Snaid Burn, Microlejeunea ulicina* and Harpalejeunea ovata were seen on oak trunks, and the latter was very abundant on some of the boulders. Other plants seen here were Sphagnum strictum,* S. subsecundum var. inundatum,* Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Harpanthus scutatus, * and a little Sematophyllum novae-caesareae,* the best find of the day and a considerable eastward extension of its known range. A few members walked down the shore of the loch to Cailness. On the way there Grimmia retracta and Fissidens curnowii* were seen on boulders, Cephaloziella rubella on an old wall, and Jamesoniella autumnalis in the wood near Cailness. The Cailness ravine, which was very hurriedly searched, seemed at least as rich as that at Inversnaid, many of the same species being present. Sematophyllum was locally abundant on rocks. Among plants seen here but not at Inversnaid were Cephalozia leucantha,* Lepidozia pearsoni and Tetraphis browniana .

The other 3 days of the first week were spent exploring the Killin district of Perthshire (V.C. 88). This is the bryologically richest part of Scotland, and also the best worked. Visits to Ben Lawers and to Creag an Lochain were enjoyable and instructive, and produced a high proportion of the rarities for which these places are noted, but no great object would be served by listing them. Bryum arcticum, found by Miss Duncan, seems to be new to Creag an Lochain. Oh the remaining day the party drove up Glen Lochay and went up the Allt Innischoarach on to the hills to the south. Ulota ludwigii and U. drummondii were seen on alders by the Lochay. On the hill were Aulacomnium turgidum, Timmia norvegica, Dichodontium pellucidum var. fagimontanum, Oncophorus wahlenbergii, Fissidens viridulus* in a rock crevice, and many of the plants already seen on Creag an Lochain and Ben Lawers. A very large form of Lophozia mülleri, probably the var. libertae, was seen here and on Creag an Lochain.

Glencoe (V.C. 98) was a complete contrast from Callander, both scenically and floristically; and the weather was remarkably good for the west Highlands. Riccia sorocarpa,* Ditrichum cylindricum,* Dicranella varia,* Amblystegium serpens,* Brachythecium albicans* and Bryum bicolor* were gathered in the Hotel garden and at the roadsides, Campylium polygamum* in the salt-marsh opposite. The alderwood above the hotel, visited on two occasions, yielded Fissidens pusillus,* Eucalyx paroicus,* Gymnostomum calcareum, Seligeria doniana, Lophozia longidens, and fruiting plants of Orthothecium rufescens, Isopterygium elegans and Ulota phyllantha.

The east face of Creag Bhàn introduced members unfamiliar with them to a few of the large hepatics so common in and characteristic of the western Highlands: Pleurozia purpurea, Metzgeria hamata, Herberta hutchinsiae, Mastigophora woodsii and Scapania ornithopodioides. Other plants seen included Herberta adunca, Radula lindbergiana, Tetraphis browniana, Dicranella subulata, Barbula ferruginascens, Leptodontium recurvifolium, Mnium orthorrhynchum,* and abundant Isopterygium müllerianum; also Thuidium recognitum,* which is new to the west of Scotland. At the southern end of the hill, where the limestone is replaced by granite, Oedipodium griffithianum occurred in several places.

The nearby hill of Sgòrr a’Choise had on the whole a less basic flora, apart from a large gully at its north end. Plants seen here but not at Creag Bhàn included Scapania aequiloba and Dicranella rufescens;* also Bartramidula wilsoni,* a very good find, not in its usual habitat of burnt ground, but on bare soil. Low down on the north-west side of the hill Ulota ludwigii was found growing on willows, and Colura calyptrifolia was seen here and there on birch roots and heather stems. But the best find, spotted by Mrs Appleyard, was Daltonia splachnoides.* This was found widely scattered on birch sticks and roots, on stones, and on living heather stems, everywhere in small quantity, always near ground-level and always close to or in the many small streamlets that were running down the open hillside after a period of rain. This is the third Scottish record of this moss, and a considerable southward extension of its range in Scotland. It is also a very different habitat from those in which it has been found before.

One day was spent in Coire Gabhail, on the north-east side of Bidean nam Bian. Much of the time was spent in the lower part of the corrie, where the boulders had abundant Dicranum blyttii, fruiting Antitrichia curtipendula, Dicranodontium uncinatum, Oligotrichum hercynicum var. laxum* and Sphenolobus pearsoni. Some members visited the higher ground, under the summit of Bidean, or on the ridge to the north-east of it. Pohlia ludwigii and Marsupella sullivantiae were seen in springs at 3000 ft. A little higher were Arctoa fulvella, Dicranum starkei and D. falcatum. Moerckia blyttii was abundant on earth in one place at 3300 ft., associated with Anastrophyllum donianum. Diplophyllum taxifolium* was seen at 3500 ft.

The main assault on Bidean nam Bian (3766 ft. and the highest mountain in Argyll) was made from the north-west corrie. Here there is a sheltered bouldery hollow at a little above 3000 ft. with a very rich bryophyte vegetation; and the party had lunch here in the midst of Marchantia polymorpha* var. alpestris, Diplophyllum taxifolium, Leptodontium recurvifolium, Pohlia drummondii, P. albicans var. glacialis, Bryum weigelii, Pseudoleskea patens, and Hylocomium pyrenaicum. Abundant at higher levels were the hepatics Jamesoniella carringtoni, Bazzania pearsoni, Anastrophyllum donianum (some with perianths) and Scapania nimbosa, all of which are common in the west Highlands, but very rare elsewhere. Also seen were Brachythecium glaciale, Mnium orthorrhynchum, Marsupella stableri and Isopterygium müllerianum. Mist unfortunately made it unsafe to leave the corrie and go on toward the summit. Dr Jones penetrated farthest into the clouds and returned with some fine fruiting Pohlia ludwigii, and also Marsupella nevicensis,* previously known in Britain only from Ben Nevis.

On a day when low cloud made it advisable to keep to the low ground the party crossed Loch Leven by Ballachulish Ferry and explored a small ravine at Onich, Inverness-shire (V.C. 97). On soil in the rough pasture of the floor of the ravine were Ephemerum serratum* and Riccia warnstorfii,* the latter the second Scottish record and a northward extension of its British range. Both were immature when gathered, but ripened capsules after cultivation. Barbula ferruginascens,* Seligeria recurvata, Fissidens pusillus, and Aplozia pumila were seen on metamorphic limestone rocks. On tree trunks were Ulota ludwigii and fruiting U. phyllantha. On the rocks and on birch trunks were many of the small hepatics characteristic of sheltered situations in the west, Mylia cuneifolia, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Harpalejeunea ovata, Aphanolejeunea microscopica and Plagiochila tridenticulata. Most of these were also seen, though less abundantly, in Glencoe. Other finds were Mnium rugicum,* in a marsh by the stream, and Lophozia obtusa. The party continued into Glen Righ, where Lepidozia pearsoni was seen, also Colura calyptrifolia on heather stems, and Mylia taylori in fruit on a rock. Male plants of Dicranum scottianum were seen on a birch trunk, fruiting ones on rocks.

Fine weather and the richness of the areas visited both contributed to the success of the meeting, all members finding species new to them. That much work remains to be done on the bryophyte flora of Scotland is shown not only by the number and interest of the new records made, but also by the number of gatherings that it has not proved possible to name satisfactorily, e.g. in Lophozia, Marsupella, Plagiothecium and Brachythecium. A few of these are discussed in the distributor’s report; but there are many more among the ‘arrears’ of those who gathered them.

A. C. Crundwell