Bryophytes of Hollybed Farm, Malvern
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I will let you know full details.
Table 1. List of Bryophyte species recorded at Hollybed Farm, Malvern 16th March 2014.
|Latin Name||English Name|
|Amblystegium serpens var. serpens||Creeping Feather-moss|
|Barbula unguiculata||Bird's-claw Beard-moss|
|Brachythecium rivulare||River Feather-moss|
|Brachythecium rutabulum||Rough-stalked Feather-moss|
|Bryum capillare||Capillary Thread-moss|
|Atrichum undulatum var. undulatum||Common Smoothcap|
|Platyhypnidium riparioides||Long-beaked Water Feather-moss|
|Bryum dichotomum||Bicoloured Bryum|
|Bryum subapiculatum||Lesser Potato Bryum|
|Cryphaea heteromalla||Lateral Cryphaea|
|Dicranoweisia cirrata||Common Pincushion|
|Didymodon insulanus||Cylindric Beard-moss|
|Didymodon rigidulus||Rigid Beard-moss|
|Fissidens bryoides var. bryoides||Lesser Pocket-moss|
|Fissidens taxifolius var. taxifolius||Common Pocket-moss|
|Funaria hygrometrica||Common Cord-moss|
|Grimmia pulvinata||Grey-cushioned Grimmia|
|Hygroamblystegium tenax||Fountain Feather-moss|
|Hypnum cupressiforme var. cupressiforme||Cypress-leaved Plait moss|
|Hypnum cupressiforme var. resupinatum||Supine Plait-moss|
|Isothecium myosuroides var. myosuroides||Slender Mouse-tail Moss|
|Kindbergia praelonga||Common Feather-moss|
|Leptodictyum riparium||Kneiff's Feather-moss|
|Mnium hornum||Swan's-neck Thyme-moss|
|Neckera complanata||Flat Neckera|
|Orthodontium lineare||Cape Thread-moss|
|Orthotrichum affine||Wood Bristle-moss|
|Orthotrichum diaphanum||White-tipped Bristle-moss|
|Orthotrichum lyellii||Lyell's Bristle-moss|
|Orthotrichum pulchellum||Elegant Bristle-moss|
|Oxyrrhynchium hians||Swartz's Feather-moss|
|Oxyrrhynchium pumilum||Dwarf Feather-moss|
|Oxyrrhynchium schleicheri||Twist-tip Feather-moss|
|Palustriella falcata||Claw-leaved Hook-moss|
|Plagiomnium undulatum||Hart's-tongue Thyme-moss|
|Rhynchostegium confertum||Clustered Feather-moss|
|Syntrichia montana||Intermediate Screw-moss|
|Thamnobryum alopecurum||Fox-tail Feather-moss|
|Tortula muralis||Wall Screw-moss|
|Ulota phyllantha||Frizzled Pincushion|
|Zygodon viridissimus var. viridissimus||Green Yoke-moss|
|Cololejeunea minutissima||Minute Pouncewort|
|Conocephalum conicum||Great Scented Liverwort|
|Frullania dilatata||Dilated Scalewort|
|Lophocolea bidentata||Bifid Crestwort|
|Lophocolea heterophylla||Variable-leaved Crestwort|
|Metzgeria furcata||Forked Veilwort|
|Pellia epiphylla||Overleaf Pellia|
|Porella platyphylla||Wall 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