Wednesday 26 February 2014

Mosses for Beginners at Ribblehead Churchyard - 24 May

If you've seen the advert for the "Ultra-Beginners Mosses Workshop" at St Leonard's churchyard on the afternoon or 24 May you may be wondering where it is, what you have let yourself in for, and can your cope? -

Yes of course you can cope - It will be lots of fun.

1.) Where is it?

Conocephalum (conicum) salebrosum
Great scented Liverwort / Snakewort
 - a thallose liverwort
at the entrance to the churchyard
Hidden in the trees, next to a dried up stream with mosses covering the river bed, a mile down from Ribblehead,  lies St Leonard's Church with its bryophyte-rich churchyard.

This is a secret, sheltered spot compared to the windswept  hills of Ingleborough and Whernside above.

And it is full of history:
Many of the workers, who built the Ribblehead viaduct (1870-1874) 140 years ago of the Settle Carlisle Railway Line and lived at the shanty town at Ribblehead 1 mile away, found their final resting place here: People who died from injuries or from diseases. It is also on the Roman road.

Over 50 species of bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) have been found here. Some on the gravestones made of different rocks. Some on the church roof: Some on the limestone walls; Some on the tree bark. Some on the grassland below the trees.

But we won't be studying all 50. We'll all be beginners so we'll concentrate on a dozen or so of the big bold bryophytes - with fun names to learn. They have English names for them now .. which makes it a lot easier.

Names like Great Scented Liverwort  (also called Snakewort.). That's the big one that grows on the ground just before you enter the lynch gate.

Let's look at it here more closely with a hand lens (I'll bring plenty so that you can borrow one, )

Can you see why it is sometimes called Snakewort?

It will be fun meeting other people.

On 24 May Judith Allinson (that's me)  and Mike Canaway will be running a "Mosses for Beginners" workshop here. this is part of the Ingleton Overground Underground Festival. from 2pm to 4pm. Places cost  £10 (children £1-00)  and this includes a cup of tea and biscuits and some handouts, and handlenses can be borrowed/bought..
The Yellow Fringe - moss
(Racomitrium aciculare)
 on the acid rock of a
benchlike tombstome.

Please book your place email   See  Transport can be provided shared by meeting at Ingleton Community Centre at 1.30pm.

Here are took some pictures last August and January. - I hope I will have opportunity to take some more on a sunny day before May 24th.

See pictures of similar mosses events in previous years

Seen closeup

Bank Haircap  - Polytrichastrum formosum on the flags of the church roof.

Plagiomnium undulatum - Hart's-tongue Thyme-moss

We're having a break and looking at a lichen here.

Anomalous Bristle-moss - Orthotrichum anomalum

I am grateful to the Church Council for allowing us to use and look in the plants of their churchyard.

Come and test out your skill at seeing the difference between different magical mosses.

Kilnsey Mosses (Superb Syntrichia part 2)

"IMAGINE you are sitting on a wind swept hillside in the Yorkshire Dales, with the grassy valley below and rocks covered with thyme leaves and special mosses stretching up the hillside far far above. In the distance the first oyster-catchers, lapwings and curlews are calling as they come to find roosting grounds.  
In one hand you hold a hand lens which enables you to see objects magnified 10 times - so you can  see the tiniest fleck of dirt in your fingernail, or the hairs on a butterflies antenna - and in another hand you have a specimen of "The Side-fruited Crisp-moss"
The Side-fruited Crisp-moss.
(Pause for admiration)
 (Pleurochaete squarrosa) - It looks a bit like a tiny yellow Chrysanthemum
More to come .....

Time goes faster than my ability to process photographs and all the moss packets I brought back from this trip with the Wharfedale Naturalists and The Upper Wharfedale Field Society. NOTE this blog-post is only half finished.

Location: The hillside above Kilnsey, adjacent to Kilnsey Crag in the Yorkshire Dales, with a postcode of BD23

Setting off

Tom Blockeel and Nick soon drop behind
Perhaps we are looking at Syntrichia intermedia

And then we find this wonderful cattlegrid -with many different Didymodon, including D ferrugineus, The Rusty beard-moss (Used to be Barbula reflexa) one with leaves that are reflexed back. I'll put a picture in later.

On the tarmac next to it is Syntrichia virescens  The Lesser Screw-moss. (that's a new Syntrichia for this blog and a new Syntrichia for me. The leaves are constricted at the middle, as in S intermedia, but it is much smaller than S intermedia, and the hair points are not very,very long. It has teeth on the hair point.

 Wall Screw-moss Tortula muralis does not have teeth on its hair point. 

Syntrichia viriscens  Lesser Screw-moss under the microscope.
The scale on the plastic rule is in tenths of a mm.

We set off diagonally up the hillside

moss to be named

Bryum pallens Pale thread-moss

and discover

and discover

Pleurochaete squarrosa - The Side-fruited Crisp-moss

Well Tom Blockeel discovers it.
It is a Mediterranean species
There is only one place more northerly than this where it grows in the UK and that is in/near the Lake District.  It was also once found at Oxenber Woods (near Settle) 

Pleurochaete squarrosa - The Side-fruited Crisip-moss

Pleurochaete squarrosa - The Side-fruited Crisip-moss

Top Left: Pleurochaete squarrosa    Right: Tortella tortuosa

Tom points out Entodon concinnus - Montagne's Cylinder-moss

Entodon concinnus - Montagne's Cylinder-moss
Hmm. Nick Mike and I wondered if we had missed it in the past thinking it was Psudosclerpodium purum (but that has leaf points) or Pleurozium schreberi - but that has a red stem
Entodon concinnus - Montagne's Cylinder-moss

Entodon concinnus - Montagne's Cylinder-moss - with a view down to Kilnsey Fish Ponds

Orthotrichum cupulatum has short setae (capsule stalks)

Orthotrichum cupulatum    Hooded Bristle-moss has short setae (capsule stalks),
The capsules are hardly cleer of the leaves.

Orthotrichum cupulatum has short setae (capsule stalks)

Didymodon rigidula forms tufts on rocks. 

We continued up and met the others at the stream (well dried up stream).
There is a gap here I may fill in later.

The beginners group leave in the early afternoon and miss the heavy rain. Gordon joins us and we revisit an Entodon patch.

Once back in the village I ask to be shown the Syntrichia ruaralis to make sure it is different to syntrichia intermedia.  Syntrichia ruralis leaves do not have a waist.

Syntrichia ruralis the Great  Hairy Screw -moss.

Instead of going home, Tom can't resist going across the stream and having a look at the trees.

Where we find Syntrichia  papillosa ..!!! (See previous blog post) 

Brachythecium populeum

Monday 24 February 2014

Carlisle Mosses - (Superb Syntrichia part 1)

What have we found here?
The Northumberland and Cumbria Branch of the British Bryological Society advertised a "Likely to be short" day in a park in Carlisle - One of the sites they had not surveyed during the 2012 Spring BBS meeting.

" A park!" I thought - "Likely to have some of the 'tiny' plants on tarmac that I'm trying to get my head round for writing my churchyard leaflets.. (perhaps there will be someone who can show me what they are..)  AND, AND,   I can get there on the Settle Carlisle Railway Line.

So that Friday evening I emailed Diane Dobson the organiser, and phoned a friend who lives near Carlisle, and set the alarm to get up early next day.

On the train I read up Didymodon mosses .. or tried to - but you just have to look at the scenery from the train.

It's a beautiful railway line.  The sun had still not risen completely at first so colours were  monochrome as I travelled, up with the source of the Ribble on the right, through the tunnel, then  Dentdale (River Dee) and Garsdale (River Clough) on the left, then the place where the source of the River Eden is capturing the source of the river Ure.  ( The Ure which goes all the way down to Ripon, York and the sea.) Top of the world at Aisgill. Then the sun came out and the fields, hills and sky were full of colour. I waved to High Cup Nick in the distance.

In Carlisle I resisted the cheap shoe shops and made my way past the side of the castle,

to the part of the park where the river Caldew joins the river Eden. With 30 minutes to spare I could look at the trees. NY 39508 56667

On the first trunk was a type of Syntrichia (That group are called Screw-mosses in English- because the leaves screw up when dry). - they open out when moist and you can see they have quite wide leaves .

This Syntrichia had short hair points and 
very concave leaves with the edges rolled in 
and as you'll read below turned out to be Syntrichia papillosa.

I had been well trained, to look for Syntrichias on the base of tree trunks..

When on the BBS trip to Mull in 2007, 7 years ago, one evening we went to Tobermory.
Mark Pool, then Membership Secretary,
had made a bee-line for the row of trees on the "promenade"
(there are very few trees in Mull anyway)
looking for a moss- Syntrichia papillosa that grows on trees in urban situations.
And we found it - follow this link to the BBS website  and you can see the picture I took of him (fifth picture down)  .

I'll repost it here anyway: -
Mark Pool investigates the urban bryology of Tobermory, 16 July 2007. Photo: Judith Allinson. 

"In the evening Mark Pool made his traditional discovery of Syntrichia papillosa, as well as Orthotrichum tenellum, both growing on lime trees by the harbourside in Tobermory, before his companions dragged him into the pub.".
.So I learned the habitat for Syntrichia papillosa - and we celebrated with fish and chips.

Here at Carlisle, ten minutes later Diane Dobson turned up, early, ready to lead the group. We introduced ourselves. I showed her the moss.
 "Syntrichia papillosa" she said straight away. She said she had only seen it a couple of times before - but recognises it because the leaves are very concave and the edges roll in, and there are lots of gemmae on the midrib. (It has a short hair point) The English name is Marble Screw-moss

Here's a picture I took the next day when it had dried up -
not v good but you can see the leaf in the centre 
has little green balls (gemmae) along the midrib. 
also I see it is not very "screwed"

We showed it to the next participant to arrive - Phil.

On the side of the trunk that  they are looking at 
there was a bigger sheet of it.

Wahee!. Thank you Mark for showing me how to find it 7 years ago. Thank you Diane.
(It has since left me wondering - did we miss some Orthotrichum tenellum?)

On the next tree, Diane was able to show me Syntrichia laevipila:  Small Hairy Screw-moss. Leaves 2.5-3.5 mm long. this was growing in a yellow green tuft.

It is different to Tortula muralis (wall screw moss) which is much smaller and grows on walls

I just happen to have a photo of Tortula muralis taken at Horton in Ribblesdale Railway Station, lower down on the Line, from 3 years ago:
8 March 2011 - Horton Station

I dug into my memory.  I remembered finding another Syntrichia with Tom Blockeel on an idyllic YNU trip on a tree beside the River Wharfe near Kettlewell - Syntrichia latifolia. Water Screw-moss. It grows on tree boles that get covered with silt when the river floods. It was such a warm day that I waded up the river, but wary of the aggressive American Red-clawed crayfish lurking in the shady pools..

See what a difference it makes, spraying the trunk  with Syntrichia latifolia with water.

And we had found it with Sharon Pilkington at Preston Montford on the Acrocarps BBS course in Feb 2013 on the wet tarmac of the Field Centre Drive

Very wet Syntrichia latifolia on wet day at Preston Montford

Well in Carlisle we found it:
First on a concrete plinth/block that had been put there to support a stone sculpture (a sort of sphere)  - the Syntrichia latifolia was growing on the damp surface shaded by this stone sphere

And second near the base of a tree.

We visited trees near the car park,  the trees near the river - we could not get down to the river bank it was too flooded - and marched across  the ryegrass playing field which had only two mosses, to the tarmac path nearer the castle - This had various Didymodons - (which are STILL in their packets.) We found one with crimson setae - "That must be Ceratodon " said Diane - relieved as it is a common plant on acid rocks so she had expected to see it somewhere.
Photo taken from the railings near the castle.  The group look at a tarmac footpath. 
Beyond is the moss-poor playing field.  The base- car-park -river junction is straight behind the group.

Also growing in the tarmac footpath was our fourth Syntrichia:  Syntrichia ruraliformis. This has blades that are strongly curved back and they are more tapering, and are not narrowed at the base. Perhaps I'll take a photo later of the plant I brought back, and add it here later.

We climbed up to the red sandstone walls of the castle - and finally ticked off over  30 species.

It being a very cold morning we left it at that. - And I enjoyed a visit to my friend , finding more mosses in his Garden Nursery.. but that's for another day.

Here is a distinctive Parmelia type lichen: Punctelia subrudecta on a tree  by the road as we were returning to the cars