Tuesday, 27 January 2015

No rolling stones please...

On the concrete block work retaining walls around the garden lives quite a diversity of life, mainly mosses, plants, lichens and the odd slug and snail. Having looked at the mosses in previous years and wondered what species they were, and noticing that they all had fruiting capsules, I decided to give identifying them a go.

Up close, the mosses are beautiful and distinctly different. At least three species are present, though more investigation will be needed through the year.

Growing in small distinct clumps measuring a few centimetres across is Wall Screw-moss (Tortula muralis). Form these neat cushions, long reddish seta hold up reddish seed capsules with a white tip. It is a very attractive looking moss.

Wall Screw-moss (Tortula muralis)

There is also a patch of Capillary Thread-moss (Bryum capillare). This moss has corkscrew-like shoots, with leaves arranged in a spiral, twisted around the stem. The large greenish capsules are held on reddish seta.

Capillary Thread-moss (Bryum capillare)

The commonest moss on the walls is Rough-stalked Feather-moss (Brachythecium rutabulum), which occurs in many large patches around the wall. The feather like leaves on the stalks are shared by several species, but to identify this for sure you need to look at the seta which bear the egg-shaped capsules. Through a decent hand-lens you can see that the stalk is covered with lots of small dimples, which gives the moss it's name. unfortunately my camera is not up to the job to show this fine detail!

Rough-stalked Feather-moss (Brachythecium rutabulum)

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