Lophocolea bispinosa

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Identification notes

At first sight, this little alien liverwort looks more like a Cephalozia than a Lophocolea. It often grows in dense mats of slender, yellow-green shoots with pincer-like leaves and could easily be taken for e.g. C. bicuspidata.

Like other Lophocolea species, L. bispinosa has a sweet aroma when fresh. It is more slender than our other Lophocolea species and differs from all of them in having numerous, fragile filiform branches which probably help it to disperse.

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

L. bispinosa is a warmth-loving species that appears to be spreading slowly across mild parts of the country and is currently most common in Cornwall, Dorset and Hampshire. China clay workings and sand and gravel quarries provide it with ideal, disturbed acid ground where it can become abundant, but it also spreads quickly into all sorts of disturbed places in smaller quantity. Don’t look for it on soils of high pH though – it is a real calcifuge.

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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