Saturday, 24 January 2015

Squirrel-tail Mosses

After my Golden Plover count at Pendine this morning, I called in to ask permission from the Mayor of Laugharne (Bob Stevens) to visit the Sir John's Hill population of Habrodon perpusillus (Lesser Squirrel-tail Moss). Aided by Sam’s excellent 2005 report this diminutive pleurocarp wasn't too difficult to locate, although I’m not sure I’d have found it without this, as the resemblance to non-fruiting Cryphaea is very disconcerting. Anyway I'm pleased to report that the site appears unchanged since Sam's survey and plants were found on all the known trees I checked.
The Sycamores in foreground and the Ash by the far bend
define the known limits of the colony
Sycamores 8 (multi-stem on the left), 9 & 10 (centre) along the bottom edge
of Sir John's Hill [8 & 9 both support Habrodon]
Habrodon perpusillus
Unfortunately I did not have time to look elsewhere for additional colonies, but one of the Sycamores (tree 7 in the report) had a few tufts of Leucodon sciuroides (Squirrel-tail Moss) growing on a ~5cm dia. horizontal branch, which is a new hectad record. This was also a new species for me, giving me two squirrel-tail ticks in one day! Now I have these both on my radar, a revisit to the Penrice estate has to be worth a shout, plus there's still the mythical Leptodon to refind (if that's where it was!).
Leucodon sciuroides


  1. Sounds a bit more productive than Gorse Road Barry!
    Good to know that the Habrodon (which I've never seen) is doing well, and the occurrence of Leucodon there as well makes the site rather special. I've only ever seen Leucodon on Maen Llia standing stone (Brecs) and that was a long time ago.
    As you say, Penrice, with all those old estate trees, must be worth checking.

  2. For Gorse Road read Gors Avenue!!!

  3. Gorse Road takes me back to my home town of Sunderland!
    Re: Bryo-friendly trees - I've always been quite fond of the much maligned Sycamore, but I have to say my fondness has grown as I've become more aware of the value it has for bryophytes. If Ash die-back is a virulent as predicted, the importance of Sycamore could be even more important?

  4. Yes I agree. Old Sycamores are great hosts for epiphytes, inverts and birds. They are also rather stately in the right context. The mature Sycamores along the River Neath corridor blend in seamlessly with the Wych Elm and Ash and some of the older trees are magnificent.

  5. That's a great effort Barry, and it's always good to see more photos of these scarce species, particularly the Habrodon which, like Charles, I've never seen. There are very few pics of Habrodon on the web so it's hard to get a search image to help with trying to find it.

    I'll try and revisit the Leucodon in Bute Park (also on Sycamore) in the next few weeks to see how it's going on.

  6. Leucodon is a brilliant result. Thanks Barry. The rocks along there support Grimmia lisae and Riccia cf subbifurca (though it looks a bit odd in my photos). I think Sir John's Hill is one of Carmarthenshire's undervalued star sites!