11th JANUARY 2014
GLENMALURE, CO. WICKLOW
joint DNFC / British Bryological Society (Dublin Group) Event
ourselves from the crowd, we crossed the river by the footbridge to the track in
Glenmalure Valley. There Joanne gave a brief introduction to bryophyte
morphology and stated that during the day, as well as examining a wide variety
of upland mosses and liverworts, an attempt would be made to re-find the rare
This had not been seen in the Valley since 1988 when it was recorded near the
Crusher House, a relic of the area’s mining era.
Atrichum undulatum, found on the side of the track, was the first species
examined. It has long pointed, toothed leaves with the nerve ending in the leaf
tip. It is one of the most distinctive acrocarpus mosses, but it can resemble Mnium
hornum in whose presence it is often found. Pogonatum aloides was
growing nearby. It is a common moss of acidic soils and has reddish stems and
triangular leaves. It can be distinguished from other Pogonatum species
by its capsule.
The next species considered, Racomitrium aciculare, was
growing on a bolder. Racomitrium mosses can be difficult to identify, but
Racomitrium aciculare is the only one without hair points that has
toothed, nerveless leaves with blunt tips. As we progressed further along the
track, Joanne spotted the pointed leaves and spear-like shoots of Calliergonella
cuspidate, one of the commonest and easily recognized mosses. Typically, it
forms large patches on tracks and paths, but it is also frequently found in
Leaving the track and heading over marshy, boggy ground towards the
Crusher House, some time was spent examining a growth of Hypnum cupressiforme
on the base of a tree trunk. Hypnum is a difficult genus where a
definitive identification is often based on the shape of lid on the capsule. H.
cupressiforme is an upland species characterized by curved leaves with
pointed tips, and a capsule with a beaked lid. Here too, we found Pleurozium
schreberi with its bright red stem and convex, translucent leaves.
At first glance, a small colony of Polytrichum commune resembled Pogonatum
urnigerum, however, the latter is quite glaucous which distinguishes it
from Polytrichum species. As the day progressed, we saw many of
the more typical large hummocks
of the tall, wiry, robust Polytrichum commune, Ireland’s largest
moss, with its toothed, narrow pointed leaves that spread away from the stem.
Many of the specimens seen were in fruit, the latter being a useful aid when
separating Polytrichum species.
In the vicinity, we admired a frozen patch of Hylocomium splendens
that lived up to its name with its red stems and bi-pinnate, fern like leaves. Rhytidiadelphus
triquetrus was conspicuous by its large, bushy form and leaves sticking
out in all directions giving it a pale, chaffy appearance. This is a moss that
also grows in calcareous woodland unlike Rhytidiadelphus loreus,
encountered later, which is more of an Atlantic upland species and whose leaves
curve backwards. Here too we identified the ubiquitous liverwort, Lophocolea
bidentata that smells like rotting wood.
to the Crusher House we explored a stonewall on which, among other species, the
liverwort-like moss, Fissidens
was evident. It is a frequent inhabitant of dry limestone walls and on its
surface patches of calcium had precipitated.
Attempts to locate the elusive Southbya
tophacea proved unsuccessful. Attention
then turned to the outside wall of the building where, a nice clump of the very
variable but strongly calcicole, yellow-green Ctenidium
was spotted. The latter’s presence is an indication that “nicer species”
may be located nearby. Also on the wall in the presence of Asplenium
we noticed, the aptly named liverwort, Plagiochila
The latter can be recognized by its convex leaves, bright pale green appearance,
and translucent sheen. Inside the Crusher House a huge sheet of the thalloid
liverwort Pellia endiviifolia was on view and, intermixed with it,
the small, tree-like Plagiomnium undulatum with its characteristic
tongue shaped, wavy leaves.
was now early afternoon and lunch beckoned. To avail of a sunny location in the
Fraughan Rock Glen for
our repast, we made an appetite-inducing climb from the lower ground of the
Valley to the track leading to the Glen. On the slope, we were thrilled to find Saccogyna
viticulosa, lurking in a damp, shaded place. This is a western oceanic
species whose only redoubt in the east of Ireland is County Wicklow. It also
happens to be one of the few liverworts with opposite leaves.
we located some Sphagnum fimbriatum along the way, in many instances
frozen species of Sphagnum capillifolium and Sphagnum fallax bore
a remarkable resemblance to it. Alongside this upper track, Breutelia
chrysocoma another species, which is more at home in western mountainous
areas with a high rainfall, grew in profusion, as well as other mosses such as Sphagnum
denticulatum, Nardia scalaris, and Bryum capillare.
lunch, we examined and recorded bryophytes in the vicinity of the stream. These
included Scarpania undulata, which was detached from stones in the water,
and Andreaea rothii, which
formed black, patches on the wet rocks. As we made our way back to base, Joanne,
having given us a master class in bryology, continued to record a wide variety
of species, proving her earlier remark that tracks can support a prolific range
of mosses and liverworts.
Hypnum cupressiforme Andreaea rothii Ctenidium molluscum
Calliergonella cuspidata Polytrichum commune Racomitrium aciculare
Pogonatum aloides Breutelia chrysocoma Pellia endiviifolia
Plagiomnium undulatum Plagiochila asplenioides Saccogyna viticulosa
Photographs © P Lenihan