Radula complanata

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Identification notes

A characteristic member of a community of common lowland epiphytes found in relatively humid scrub and woodland. Like many epiphytes, it’s sensitive to sulphur dioxide and declined in many areas in the 20th century as a result of the widespread burning of coal in power stations. Fortunately, it has subsequently returned to many of its former haunts as air quality has improved.

It often grows with Frullania dilatata, and, like that species, has complicated-looking shoots where leaves are folded into a lobe and a smaller lobule. There the similarity ends, however. On a branch of mixed epiphytes, Radula will be the largest leafy liverwort, with shoots typically twice as wide as those of F. dilatata and of a different, pale green colour. Prise a shoot away from the bark and you’ll see that the lobules on the underside are almost rectangular. Often, tufts of brownish rhizoids sprout out of the middle of these – a very unusual character. In late winter, flap-like structures – the perianths – stick outwards from the plants and are often numerous and conspicuous.

Although R. complanata is mainly a species of bark, it does sometimes also grow on rocks, sometimes leading to potential confusion with some of the scarcer species of Radula.

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Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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