Hygroamblystegium fluviatile

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Identification notes

H. fluviatile can be recognised as a Hygroamblystegium by the combination of a very stout nerve and thick-walled mid-leaf cells only 2-4 times as long as wide. With H. tenax, it shares these characters with Cratoneuron filicinum, another highly variable species that is often found in highly basic wet places (although rarely on rocks in fast-flowing watercourses that are regularly inundated). However, that plant has inflated alar cells forming obvious decurrent auricles, which are lacking in Hygroamblystegium species.

When growing on rocks in fast-flowing water, the long, little-branched shoots of H. fluviatile have a characteristically stringy look about them but they vary in size and both robust and slender forms can be found. Water shear and abrasion sometimes erodes the laminae of the lower leaves, leaving only nerves sticking out from the stem.

It can be very difficult to separate H. fluviatile and H. tenax, and intermediates do occur (which may be recorded as Hygroamblystegium sp.). H. fluviatile has a wider and more ovate leaf shape, the widest part of the leaf tending to be higher than in H. tenax. It has an obtuse apex, and the cells of the apex are usually not much different in shape from the upper laminal cells (tending to be longer and narrower in H. tenax).

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

H. fluviatile is common in Wales, northern England, eastern Scotland and SW England (Devon and Cornwall), where it overlaps in range with H. tenax. It is rare in other areas, although possibly under-recorded in Ireland. In the south and east of England H. tenax replaces H. fluviatile in most situations.

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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