Tuesday, 3 January 2017

I Hate Bryophytes

Just a quick one tonight. I've spent much of this evening going cross-eyed at a tiny patch of liverwort that I collected yesterday. It's one of the Calypogeia bastards, which are all quite small and variable. The BBS Field Guide is simply inadequate. I need the proper floras, but that's not likely at the prices they currently go for!  

OK, so what was my problem this time, apart from being dumb enough to tackle a liverwort? Well, first up there were only a few leaves exhibiting the characteristic notched-tip. I was fairly happy that at least some of them had divergent tips which, according to the BBS Guide, means they have to be Calypogeia arguta. Plus the habitat was spot on - growing on a vertical soil bank in a lane. Easy, or so I thought until I checked the species account for Calypogeia fissa which says that its deeply bilobed underleaves are a sure-fire recognition feature when compared to the others in the genus. But my ones show deeply bilobed underleaves - so it's actually fissa

I had another look. It appears that the smallest, runtiest plants have (a few) leaves with divergent teeth, the bigger (ie 2mm not 1mm) leaves just have a notch of intermediate shape. Some still seem a bit divergent to my eyes. I don't have enough zoom to see the exact features of the underleaves on the smaller specimens, plus the light source is awkward. I may have arguta AND fissa. Maybe. Here are a bunch of godawful down-the-barrel microscope pics.

The larger plant, I'm happy that this is Calypogeia fissa.
Underside shot showing the deeply bilobed underleaf. Hang on - I'll crop it for you!
Check out the 'pair of horns' lying across the stem - that's the bilobed underleaf.
Ok, so bearing in mind that a leaf is about 2mm long you can see that the underleaf is quite a small wee thing! From what I can see it has a pair of blunt horns, a U-shaped saddle between them and it bulges a bit around the outside edge. Luckily I found some decent info online and came across a brilliant drawing from 1926 here which clearly shows that my plant is indeed Calypogeia fissa. Phew! 

But here's a (very poor) pic of the smaller specimen, pretty certain it really does have divergent teeth. This is where you need to squint kinda hard...

You need to be looking at the small plant just above centre. The tiny one.
Dunno about you, but I reckon the teeth are divergent, which would make it Calypogeia arguta. What do y'all reckon? Other than to quit stringing liverworts. 

Anyway, here's an easier one I peeled from a rock yesterday. The features to look at in this next photo are as follows. Bear in mind you're looking at the underside of the plant. The small, dark pocket-shaped blobs are called lobules and they are obviously longer than they are wide. They are darker than the leaf above them. The leaf itself has all the cells pretty much the same as each other. There isn't a row or broken row of modified cells running diagonally across the base of the leaf. Got all that? Cool, here's the pic

This is Frullania teneriffae and a lifer for me
If it had the row of modified cells it would be Frullania tamarisci. They both occur up here so I shall be on the look out. On a tree I found Frullania dilatata, female shoots end in a big fat warty perianth so it's quite an easy one to recognise. I used to go out with a girl who had.....no, ignore that.  

The only other thing of note from yesterday was this punnet of raspberries we found hidden in the fridge. 

Internet reckons it's not a great idea to eat mouldy raspberries. No kiddin'!!!!
Seems the grey scuzz all over them is a lovely fungus that goes by the name of Botrytis cinerea. And yup, I'm happy to tick it (my first fridge tick since Vestal way back in 1996!!!) Naming no names *Bill Urwin* but some folks merrily twitch fridges for their moff contents. Ridiculous behaviour. That Vestal was in my mate's fridge, made sense to have a peek seeing as I was at his house already...

So there you have  it kids. Don't look at small liverworts and don't eat furry fruit. Sorted.


  1. Is the BBS guide inadequate or is it the user :)

  2. Both! Well ok, mostly the latter. I'm going to take the plunge and treat myself to a couple of decent guides - namely 'The Liverworts of Britain and Ireland' and 'The Moss Flora of Britain and Ireland', both by A J E Smith. I'm opting for the older paperback editions rather than the latest hardback editions as they are SO much cheaper and still cover about 98% of what the newer ones do, which is plenty good enough for me! Links to each are here if you want to go for them too.

    Liverworts (£15.93 instead of £95) - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Liverworts-Britain-Ireland-J-Smith/dp/0521424739

    Mosses (£12.17 instead of £90)- https://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=21049066619&searchurl=tn%3Dmoss%2Bflora%2Bof%2Bbritain%2Band%2Bireland%26sortby%3D17%26an%3Dsmith