Frullania fragilifolia

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Identification notes

After F. dilatata and F. tamarisci, this is the Frullania species you are most likely to encounter, at least in western and northern districts where there is a lot of hard rock.

It’s a small species and adheres closely to its substrate in thin patches. In well-lit spots these are typically dark red to blackish in colour. It has a habit of growing on rocks with F. tamarisci, which is a larger, glossy species with a tendency to grow away from the surface, something F. fragilifolia doesn’t do.

F. fragilifolia has leaves that are very easily broken away from the stems, hence the name. These are in fact vegetative propagules and may explain why F. fragilifolia often grows in colonies of multiple plants. In the field, if you suspect this species, moisten a fingertip, press it firmly down on the patch and then examine it closely. The English name of Spotty Fingers perfectly describes how your fingertip should then look, with leaf fragments on the skin. Also, your fingertip should smell sweet, as F. fragilifolia has quite a strong but pleasant aroma.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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