Friday, 25 September 2015

Arable fun

This afternoon Julian Woodman took me to see an organic arable field just west of Cardiff (ST1080). I was on school run duty so we had a 4 year old in tow, but that didn't spoil the fun of seeing lots of the crystalworts (both Riccia glauca and sorocarpa) which Julian had seen when he first visited the field a week or two ago. More exciting still was a fair abundance of hornwort rosettes, often mixed with the crystalworts. Neither of us had seen a hornwort before so we were rather chuffed (though Bethany was rather more interested in the shieldbugs and spiders).

I think these are probably Anthoceros agrestis, given the rosettes are small (0.6-0.8cm diameter) and this species is more likely than punctatus in the east of Wales, but I couldn't find any antheridia to confirm this. Any comments on whether it is safe to record this as agrestis would be welcome.

Anthoceros agrestis?
Young Anthoceros agrestis?
A species rich lump of arable earth

There was also a lot of Fossombronia sp. (lacking sporophytes) as well as Tortula truncata, Trichodon cylindricus, Dicranella staphylina and Bryum rubens, among other more generalist species such as Oxyrrhynchium hians.


  1. Well done George. It will need to be recorded as Anthoceros sp unless you can find antheridia, although A punctatus is exceedingly unlikely. I'm not 100% sure A agrestis has yet been vouchered from VC41 so will check the Census Catalogue. As your top photo has young horns it'll definitely have some antheridia - search fresh thalli for little pimples/volcanos and then squeeze the little orange antheridia out with forceps.

  2. Hmmm thanks, I tried this under the microscope last night, but couldn't find any. Presumably they would be on the central (oldest) part of the thallus? I'll have another look.

  3. There are a couple of suspicious-looking bits at 11 o'clock on the lower thallus in photo 2 - give those a check if you can. If that fails you might be able to cut cross-sections across a thallus to reveal young antheridial pits. Send it my way if you want.