Friday, 6 February 2015

Don't always believe what the books say

Just flicking through the New Atlas and glanced at some of the comments regarding production of sporophytes in some species.   As recorders don't always make a note of whether a species was fruiting or not, it seems the BRC bryophyte database has very few records of fruiting in some very common species, which can then be interpreted as some species producing fruits only rarely.   Many of the common dioicous pleurocarps such as Calliergonella cuspidata, Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus, R. triquetrus, Hylocomium splendens, Pseudoscleropodium purum and the like are often reported in the text books as fruiting only rarely.  This may be true taking Britain as a whole, but we have found in south Wales that some of these species seem to fruit reasonably often.  I usually make a special search for fruits if I come across large patches of pleurocarps and it is surprising how often they are present - late winter seems to be a good time to look.   The next time you are walking across a dull bit of heathland with abundant Pleurozium keep an eye open for fruits - although this moss does seem fruit less often than some of the other species mentioned above.    You may have to dig around a bit in patches of some species - e.g. in Breutelia setae are very short and fruits hidden well inside hummocks; on Pseudocleropodium fruits appear to be produced on the previous years growth and so despite having a long seta the capsules can still be hidden amongst stems.

I have still to find fruits on Climacium in Wales (seen them once in Yorkshire) and the only time I have seen them on Rhodobryum was when I examined an old herbarium packet containing a specimen collected near Carmarthen, but I live in hope.



  1. Interesting. I've never seen fruits on any of the species you mention, but I'll look harder in future...

  2. I’ve been quite lax when it comes to recording fruiting, as you say probably more so when it comes to the commoner species, so perhaps now it’s time I upped my game. The following are among the options MapMate gives for the ‘Stage’ field, the three capsule categories probably being the most appropriate:
    Capsules, dehis
    Capsules, unripe

  3. Yes - those three capsule categories look to be the best - pity there isn't also a 'ripe' category to distinguish between that and a general 'capsules' present.

    It is also worth trying to record male and female plants for some species - e.g. over this way most Lunularia is female and i have only noted male plants at a handful of locations and only once were male and female growing together (frustratingly I think sporophytes were starting to form, but then the plants dried out - reminds me to have another look sometime) - i don't know how this could also be recorded in MapMate.