Thursday, 25 January 2018

Campylopus subulatus

While going through some of the NPT forest road records in MapMate I noticed that there was a record of Campylopus fragilis for Nant y Cafn  attributed to H and me. After checking my vouchers I found a packet labelled 'Campylopus fragilis or Campylopus subulatus in calcareous grassy verge near forest track, Nany Cafn (23/4/17)'. Clearly I hadn't nailed this. So we went up to the site yesterday to collect some fresh specimens. The photo below (taken last April) shows the plants in situ. There is a very large population in the vicinity of SN81610756 which is very conspicuous and although on close inspection it is obviously a Campylopus, the colony has a bright yellowish-green colour which looks a bit like Ditrichum gracile from distance.

The plants are rather short-leaved and there is no tomentum. Deciduous shoot tips are abundant all over the colony.

The leaves have no auricles to speak of, there is a wide costa (at least 70% of leaf width at base) and the thin-walled basal cells are linear/rectangular. The alar cells are larger but not differentiated greatly fro the basal cells and not thick-walled and pigmented like those of Campylopus flexuosus.

A section of the costa shows the large adaxial cells which occupy about 35- 40% of costa thickness and the absence of stereid cells. The leaf tip has a few distinctive teeth.

 So, it looks like Campylopus subulatus, which is a nice record for NPT. However,  I see that Sam and Graham recorded it in the Nedd Fechan Valley a few years ago, so it is not new for VC41. Sam has also recorded it in Brechfa, although I'm not sure whether that is a forest road record.  I think it's worth keeping an eye open for this species which may be under recorded. The copious production of deciduous shoot tips suggests that it could spread easily along suitable forest tracks.
I'll amend the record in Map Mate.


  1. Great record Charles and some very useful pointers for those of us not familiar with this species. Nice bit of leaf sectioning going on there too - you'll have to give me some tips

  2. I got thoroughly stumped by C subulatus on forestry tracks in Carmarthenshire when writing the Carms Flora, so it was very under-recorded in the book. It is almost ubiquitous on Brechfa Forest tracks, often in great abundance, as is the case in much of mid Wales too. I suspect that many of the NPT tracks are too base-rich for it, but any track with Calliergonella lindbergii, Racomitrium ericoides, Scapania irrigua etc might support C subulatus. Its pre-forestry habitat (as at the Nedd Fechan and by the Afon Llugwy in VC49) is gritty crevices in riverside rock outcrops.