Tortula vahliana

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Identification notes

Tortula vahliana is a plant of shaded calcareous argillaceous soil, especially old quarries and chalk pits. Despite having plenty of potentially suitable habitat, it is quite rare and restricted in distribution. It does fruit reasonably frequently but the capsules often do not reach maturity, even in the absence of frost.

It sometimes occurs as scattered shoots but usually as gregarious patches. It has the bright green colour of a Tortula with papillose cells. Leaves are lingulate or spathulate and the nerve is usually excurrent in a greenish point. Sometimes, however, hair point can be longer (up to 0.5mm), becoming hyaline at the tip but remaining greenish lower down. The leaf margin is a little recurved in mid-leaf, but it lacks the strongly recurved border of forms of Tortula muralis with a greenish excurrent nerve that sometimes can be found on soil. Tortula marginata, which can be found in similar habitats, has a border of narrow cells.

The literature describes a paler marginal band of 2 cells width which is more pellucid because of fewer papillae. This is not always clear.


Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

This is a Mediterranean-Atlantic plant that is restricted to southern England – mainly the chalklands of East Anglia with a few records from Kent and the limestone of Somerset.

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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