Bryophytes of Hollybed Farm, Malvern

Ann Hill

Worcestershire Bryophyte Group and the Border Bryologists held a joint bryophyte recording day on Sunday 16th March 2014 at Hollybed Farm, Malvern. Hollybed Farm is a newly established Worcestershire Wildlife Trust grassland reserve of 16ha with a mixture of limestone, neutral and wet grassland, a small valley with calcareous banks, damp woodland, scrub and open grassy areas, small fields of rough calcareous grassland, agriculturally improved fields bordered by hedgerows and the remnants of an old orchard. Fifty bryophyte species were recorded during the day.

The greatest bryophyte interest was found in the damp woodland along the stream valley and it was here that the most interesting bryophyte record of the day was made. The liverwort Cololejeunea minutissima Minute Pouncewort (01) was found by Rita Holmes growing on ageing coppiced hazel at the south-eastern end of the valley. The liverwort is minute (plants to 4(8) mm long with leafy shoots 250-500ums wide) and there were only two previous records for the county: in 2003 at Wissett's Wood and in 2004 at Broad Down, Malvern.

Another interesting record along the stream valley was of Palustriella falcata Claw-leaved Hook-moss, a pleurocarpous moss indicative of base-rich wet habitats, wet calcareous rocks and seepages. There are very few records of Palustriella falcata in VC37. In the same habitat Oxyrrhynchium schleicheri Twist-tip Feather-moss was also recorded: this is a pleurocarpous moss of well-drained soil on banks by rivers, streams, tracks and lanes, and has been infrequently recorded in the county.

General bryophyte cover was patchy along the stream valley and varied in response to small-scale changes in topography and moisture. In places there was extensive cover of Brachythecium rutabulum Rough-stalked Feather-moss (and in wetter places Brachythecium rivulare River Feather-moss) frequently growing with Kindbergia praelonga Common Feather-moss over the bare soil.

Epiphytic mosses growing on tree trunks and inclined branches included frequent Orthotrichum affine Wood Bristle-moss and more rarely other species of Orthotrichum such as O. diaphanum White-tipped Bristle-moss, O. lyellii Lyell's Bristle-moss (02) and O. pulchellum Elegant Bristle-moss. Ulota phyllantha Frizzled Pincushion (03), Zygodon viridissimus Green Yoke-moss and Cryphaea heteromalla Lateral Cryphaea were also noted as were the liverworts Frullania dilatata Dilated Scalewort and locally abundant Metzgeria furcata Forked Veilwort.

Bryophytes were scarce in the grassland habitat. A few arable bryophytes such as Barbula unguiculata Bird's-claw Beard-moss, Bryum dichotomum Bicoloured Bryum and B. subapiculatum Lesser Potato Bryum were recorded around the field margins. VC37 only has a very few records of the acrocarpous moss B. subapiculatum possibly because certain identification requires you to free the rhizoids of soil in order to examine the tiny tubers (like minute potatoes) attached to the rhizoids. Bryophytes of arable fields are small and inconspicuous and tricky to identify until you “get your eye in”. Funaria hygrometrica Common Cord-moss, a moss of disturbed and cultivated ground and often found on sites of fires was recorded on bare soil in the corner of a field. Of interest were the large dark green patches of the leafy liverwort Porella platyphylla Wall Scalewort that covered the base of an old ash tree in a hedgerow of one of the fields.

The old orchard was found to be of little interest for bryophytes: possibly because of past management practices or because the fruit trees were pear rather than apple (apple trees have a base-rich bark). However, Hypnum cupressiforme Cypress-leaved Plait Moss was locally abundant on the bark of some of the old trees and generated an interesting discussion about the complexities and identification of species of the Hypnum cupressiforme complex.

Overall, the farm had a reasonable diversity of bryophytes and we had a very enjoyable and interesting recording day and enjoyed beautiful warm weather.

Additionally, in the morning we saw an interesting and unusual cloud formation over Starling Bank. The cloud was a Lenticular cloud Altocumulus lenticularis - a type of lens-shaped cloud that sometimes forms over mountains and high ground (04 photo taken by Bill Dykes).

We also recorded an adult slow-worm basking on a south-facing bank overlooking the stream valley.

The group was led by Mark Lawley and Ann Hill and the bryologists were Barbara Marshall, Bill Dykes, Des Marshall, Gary Powell, Gillian Driver, John Marshall, Mary Singleton, Pam Parkes, Rachel Kempson, Ralph Martin, Richard Finch, Rita Holmes, Roger Parkes, Tessa Carrick, Wendy Clarke and Xiaoqing Li.

Worcestershire Bryophyte Group is a small informal group that goes out to Worcestershire sites to record and learn about bryophytes. Our broad aim is to assist everyone, especially those who are new to mosses and liverworts, to become more experienced and confident at identifying bryophytes. Beginners are always very welcome, the only equipment needed is a hand lens (x10 or x20) and some paper packets for collecting specimens. Below are dates for our next planned field excursions. If you are interested in joining us on either of the field trips please contact me at and I will let you know full details.

Table 1. List of Bryophyte species recorded at Hollybed Farm, Malvern 16th March 2014.

Latin NameEnglish Name


Amblystegium serpens var. serpensCreeping Feather-moss
Barbula unguiculataBird's-claw Beard-moss
Brachythecium rivulareRiver Feather-moss
Brachythecium rutabulumRough-stalked Feather-moss
Bryum capillareCapillary Thread-moss
Atrichum undulatum var. undulatumCommon Smoothcap
Platyhypnidium riparioidesLong-beaked Water Feather-moss
Bryum dichotomumBicoloured Bryum
Bryum subapiculatumLesser Potato Bryum
Cryphaea heteromallaLateral Cryphaea
Dicranoweisia cirrataCommon Pincushion
Didymodon insulanusCylindric Beard-moss
Didymodon rigidulusRigid Beard-moss
Fissidens bryoides var. bryoidesLesser Pocket-moss
Fissidens taxifolius var. taxifoliusCommon Pocket-moss
Funaria hygrometricaCommon Cord-moss
Grimmia pulvinataGrey-cushioned Grimmia
Hygroamblystegium tenaxFountain Feather-moss
Hypnum cupressiforme var. cupressiformeCypress-leaved Plait moss
Hypnum cupressiforme var. resupinatumSupine Plait-moss
Isothecium myosuroides var. myosuroidesSlender Mouse-tail Moss
Kindbergia praelongaCommon Feather-moss
Leptodictyum ripariumKneiff's Feather-moss
Mnium hornumSwan's-neck Thyme-moss
Neckera complanataFlat Neckera
Orthodontium lineareCape Thread-moss
Orthotrichum affineWood Bristle-moss
Orthotrichum diaphanumWhite-tipped Bristle-moss
Orthotrichum lyelliiLyell's Bristle-moss
Orthotrichum pulchellumElegant Bristle-moss
Oxyrrhynchium hiansSwartz's Feather-moss
Oxyrrhynchium pumilumDwarf Feather-moss
Oxyrrhynchium schleicheriTwist-tip Feather-moss
Palustriella falcataClaw-leaved Hook-moss
Plagiomnium undulatumHart's-tongue Thyme-moss
Rhynchostegium confertumClustered Feather-moss
Syntrichia montanaIntermediate Screw-moss
Thamnobryum alopecurumFox-tail Feather-moss
Tortula muralisWall Screw-moss
Ulota species 
Ulota phyllanthaFrizzled Pincushion
Zygodon viridissimus var. viridissimusGreen Yoke-moss


Cololejeunea minutissimaMinute Pouncewort
Conocephalum conicumGreat Scented Liverwort
Frullania dilatataDilated Scalewort
Lophocolea bidentataBifid Crestwort
Lophocolea heterophyllaVariable-leaved Crestwort
Metzgeria furcataForked Veilwort
Pellia epiphyllaOverleaf Pellia
Porella platyphyllaWall Scalewort


01. Cololejeunea minutissima Minute Pouncewort. Ann Hill

02. Orthotrichum Lyellii Lyell's Bristle-moss. Ann Hill

03. Ulota phyllantha Frizzled Pincushion. Ann Hill

04. Lenticular cloud Altocumulus lenticularis. Bill Dykes

01. Cololejeunea minutissima Minute Pouncewort. Ann Hill
02. Orthotrichum Lyellii Lyell's Bristle-moss. Ann Hill
03. Ulota phyllantha Frizzled Pincushion. Ann Hill
04. Lenticular cloud Altocumulus lenticularis. Bill Dykes