Sunday, 6 November 2016

Horns a-plenty

On Fridays I mostly look after my younger daughter Amy, but I do get a couple of hours of play time while she is in nursery school - ideal for topping up the bryo counts for some local tetrads. On Friday last week conditions were ideal - some morning rain to moisten up the bryos nicely after the recent dry spell, replaced by sunshine by the time I ventured out.

My target was the west (VC41) bank of the River Rhymney north of Llanedern Bridge. I looked at a short section south of the bridge a year ago but only managed 30 taxa, so wanted to try and bump this up a bit. The usual range of flood zone bryophytes was present, including plenty of fruiting Leskea polycarpa. Of more interest to me were some large patches of fruiting Fissidens crassipes on riverbank rocks (convincing microscopically, with cell and peristome measurements within the ranges given in Smith), the first time I've seen this species on the local rivers.

A patch of knotweed on the riverbank had been chemically treated, allowing bryophytes to flourish on the newly-created bare ground. Both Riccia glauca and R. sorocarpa were present here.

Riccia glauca
Riccia sorocarpa

The best was still to come though. Across the track from the river was a large, grassy arable field and here, along with more crystalworts, were two species of hornwort: large male and female rosettes of Phaeoceros laevis and much smaller rosettes of Anthoceros with well developed horns. Frustratingly, try as I might, I couldn't find any male organs on the Anthoceros sample I brought home, so it will have to go down as Anthoceros sp. (though it's very likely to be A. agrestis as the rosettes were small). Other typical arable bryos were also abundant: Ephemerum minutissimum, Dicranella scherberiana, Trichodon cylindricus and Tortula truncata.
Anthoceros sp.
Anthoceros rosettes
Phaeoceros laevis (female)

Phaeoceros laevis (male)
Phaeoceros laevis (male organs)
I still haven't quite got this tetrad up to 60 species, but perhaps Sam has some records from the eastern (VC35) half?


  1. Good stuff! I'm sure you will nail the Anthoceros in good time and i suspect you will start noting it at other sites on your patch. It should be down this end too - no joy yet but perhaps this is winter I will start looking more seriously at arable?
    The Fissidens should prove to be more widespread than records currently indicate, though yours was only the 11th Glamorgan tetrad.

  2. A brace of Riccias and a brace of Hornworts..... can't be faulted George

  3. Thanks both. F. crassipes should certainly be quite widespread on lowland rivers in the east of the county, so I've probably been overlooking it til now.