Nov 12 Bryology in our Wood By Rich

Dwarf Haircap (Pogonatum nanum)

Bernie and Theresa (The Barrowers) recently had a survey of mosses and liverworts in their wood.  It was carried out by Tom Ottely from the British Bryological Society, you may have seen the recent discussion on the forum about it.   Here’s Bernies report of  an interesting aspect of our woods, which may go unnoticed.  Many thanks to Tom for offering his services, I know several members have found it fascinating.

Bryology in our Wood

Bryotopogrphy or Mosses and Liverworts to us.
We have been lucky enough to have had a visit to our East Sussex woodland by Tom Ottley who is the British Bryological Society (mosses and liverworts) recorder for Sussex.
Tom spent a few hours with an eye glass and a Swiss Army knife and we joined him for some time, to get him to explain about what we thought were just mosses.
Liverworts to this point had been a German sausage in our limited knowledge.
Tom explained about the various types of mosses of which there are over 1000 in the UK. He has identified over 40 in our wood.
A good selection of the commoner mosses and liverworts were found with lovely names such as Slender Mouse-tail Moss, Heath Star Moss, Cow-horn Bog-moss, Bicoloured Bryum and Springy Turf-moss (They also have long unpronounceable names).
Tom also found some more unusual species such as Dwarf Haircap (Pogonatum nanum). This is a species very rare in Sussex, which he called a pleasant surprise, this plant having declined for reasons unknown throughout the country and now quite scarce.  Tom says this is almost certainly the only place in East Sussex where it can be found.
It does however have a stronghold at Bedgebury Forest, in Kent, on rather similar soil.
Tom suggested that no special conservation measures were needed within the coppice; as the regular rotation of habitats provided by the coppicing suits the mosses growing on the stumps. He suggested that we should be mindful of the banks and the main track may need to be protected from heavy machinery or excessive trampling at the time of coppicing.

Recommended Books
For identification of the mosses listed above the Field Guide (Mosses and Liverworts of Britain and Ireland: A Field Guide) published by the British Bryological Society and obtainable from Amazon is quite suitable.
Tom also recommended a hand lens (x 10) would be needed to identify some of mosses.
Tom will be visiting to cover more ground at some stage and we are looking forward to more surprises and the opportunity to pick his brains further.

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