Bryophyte Lichen Trip report

Glencoyne trip report – 18-11-21


A group of four lichen and eight bryophyte people met beside Ullswater to walk up into the Glencoyne valley on a breezy, overcast but largely dry day. Kerry, the trip leader, had surveyed this spot before and noted several old ash trees supporting colonies of the important Atlantic woodland lichen Lobaria pulmonaria, warranting further investigation to check for other Lobarion community species.

The western shore of Ullswater has several areas where remnants of ecologically significant woodland can be found. The wood pasture and woodlands near Aira Force have been surveyed by lichenologists but above Glencoyne Farm, where the east-facing valley narrows, there is a wood of old ash trees, well spaced out on the slopes above the beck which had not been visited by specialists. The National Trust and the tenants of the farm were happy for us to take a look.

The plan was for the lichen and bryophyte groups to stay together for the morning and for once we managed this – usually the lichen lot get stuck in the car park looking at trees and walls whilst the bryo people have disappeared in the direction of the nearest beck or bog. We had also agreed to head directly to the target monad containing the main patch of woodland, though some of us couldn’t resist looking at and discussing some lovely Peltigera en route and had to hurry to catch up.

The first tree of interest, a well-lit hawthorn, had some good crustose species, like the tiny discs of Dimerella pineti, and a range of foliose lichens.

We slowly worked our way from ash to ash up the slope, aiming for a huge old tree that Kerry knew had a good sized patch of Lobaria pulmonaria. This was very impressive and we spent some time looking at the rest of the tree and others nearby, including several large hollow ash trees. Three other L pulmonaria trees were spotted and the precise grid references taken.

As it turned out we didn’t find the leafy species that might be associated with the Lobarion community in western Scotland or Borrowdale, such as Sticta, Nephroma and Parmeliella, but there were some lovely tiny crusts on some trees that required examining later under the microscope – Normandina acroglypta, Anisomeridium biforme, A polypori and A ranunculosporum, Agonimia allobata, A tristicula. and Thelenella muscorum. A couple of jelly lichens were on ash trees – Leptogium lichenoides and Collema flaccidum, both species of slightly more acidic substrates. The distinctive white-spotted grey leafy Cetrelia olivetorum was seen on three trees and five species of Peltigera on a variety of substrates. Several lichens which indicate ecological continuity (woodland cover continuously present for a long period) were missing, eg we did not see Thelotrema lepadinum, and there were relatively few lirellate species – Opegrapha varia and O niveoatra were on ash with a small amount of Graphis scripta and G elegans seen on hazel beside the beck. A fair few of the ash trees seemed to have acidic bark based on their lichen flora, supporting Cladonia and Parmelia species. There were also nice boulders and small outcrops with a range of acidic rock species.

In the end we recorded nearly 90 species but dusk and the onset of rain, not to mention mental exhaustion, meant we didn’t look at every tree. As usual we’ll have to go back another time.

Caz Walker

Photos: Pete Martin and Chris Cant


It was a reasonably fine day when we gathered in the NT car park at Glencoyne. Any day that isn’t pouring with rain is, after all, a lucky bonus! It was great to see such a great turnout – twelve in total, with two new visitors (Richard and Lizzie) all the way from the Northumberland border.
Our plan was to visit a little recorded area of wood pasture on slopes upstream of Glencoyne Farm, around NY376187. This area is usually off-limits, with no public footpaths, but we had permission from the farmer, who is very helpful and interested in conservation. Kerry had previously noticed species of interest during a Veteran Tree Survey a few years ago, including Lobaria pulmonaria and Antitrichia curtipendula, so it seemed worth exploring it more thoroughly.

We decided to head straight for the target monad and managed to avoid being distracted too much until we reached the edge of the square, heading towards a nice slope dotted with ash and other trees. The lichen group split off to look at the trees while the bryophyte lot explored some of the rocks, looking out in particular for the Antitrichia curtipendula. The steeper slopes had scattered boulders with a good range of bryophytes.

Exploring trees and rocks on sloping wood pasture.

There was much discussion about the identity of small Polytrichum mosses (Polytrichastrum formosum and Polytrichum piliferum), Camplylopus flexuosus, Scapania nemorea and Barbilophozia barbata, and some lovely patches of Ptilidium ciliare were admired. Among the Thuidium tamariscinum Peter pointed out patches of a paler green, more three-dimensional Thuidium which he suggested was likely to be Thuidium delicatulum. Examination under the microscope later proved him correct, the defining feature being the crown of papillae on the leaf at the tip of the shoot.

Distinctive leaf tips with a crown of papillae, rather than the single papilla on Thuidium tamariscum
Distinctive leaf tips on Thuidium tamariscum

Heading back down towards the trees, we homed in on a rotting log which revealed Riccia palmata as well as lots of Nowelia curvifolia. The base of a tree had a good patch of Isothecium alopecuroides, with its blunt, concave leaves, as well as the more usual Isothecium myosuroides, while another tree base with lovely Pterogonium gracile. Some fallen branches had tufts of Orthotrichum lyellii, with a distinctive scattering of dark gemmae looking rather like a fungal infection. Crevices in the ground sheltered large quantities of Homalia trichomanoides.

Pterogonium gracile

After a short lunch break, the bryologists headed down to the beck to see if we could find more interesting species there. The rocks were covered in Sciuro-hypnum plumosum and Sciuro-hypnum populeum, with lots of capsules, and there were a couple of nice patches of Plagiochila spinulosa; also Schistidium rivulare, Barbilophozia barbata and B. floerkei and Scapania compacta.

Brachythecium plumosum
Brachythecium plumosum
Plagiochila spinulosa
Plagiochila spinulosa

With the afternoon drawing on and daylight starting to fade, we thought it was time to call it a day and headed out of the gill and back towards the farm. We were all a little disappointed not to have found the Antitrichia curtipendula. Then, as we were gazing at something boring on a rock, there it was! First just a small patch, then more and more with a large, luxuriant golden cushion spreading round a tree base. A beautiful moss, it really made our day.

Antitrichia curtipendula
Antitrichia curtipendula
Antitrichia curtipendula - hooked teeth on leaf tips

Antitrichia curtipendula, above, a large, golden moss forming cushions on rocks and tree bases. A distinctive feature is the hooked teeth on the leaf tips, which can just about be seen with a x20 hand lens (and good eyes).

The last, boggy field before the edge of the monad still had more to offer though, with Sphagnum angustifolium – see below – (no previous records in the area, but probably underrecorded) and Scorpidium cossonii. A great day all round.

Clare Shaw

Photos: Clare Shaw

Bryophyte Lichen Trip report

Kirkstone Pass trip report 24/8/21


Kirkstone pass car park seemed busy when we arrived, with people unloading bikes and setting out on walks. It was a lovely sunny morning, but with some lingering mist above the pass. We were a small group, mainly lichen fans, so it seemed I’d be the only one looking at bryophytes. As we set off west from the car park the lichen group clustered around boulders, while I went to explore some small flushes and boggy areas. I was sure I’d seen Warnstorfia fluitans around here on a previous visit, but it didn’t want to show itself today. There was, however, a nice golden patch of Ptilidium ciliare, such an attractive liverwort that I attempted to distract the lichenologists from their boulders; they were moderately impressed by the lovely ciliate leaves ­ or just being polite!  Higher up the hillside we reached a large rock face, where Judith pointed out extensive sheets of Frullania. The shoots looked very narrow and dark, with the leaves curled under, and I wondered if it might be one of the less common species. Checking later under the microscope, it became clear that it was F. fragilifolia. The leaves were coming off on my hands and on the microscope slide, but there didn’t seem to be any really denuded stems. It was aromatic, but not as strongly as some liverworts. Other features however were much more distinctive: the underleaves were an irregular shape and often wedge shaped rather than round, the ocelli were scattered across the leaves rather than in a straight line, and the first underleaf on each branch was 3-lobed. This last feature was quite difficult to see, as it wasn’t always easy to get a clear view of the underleaf at the junction of stem and branch, but I found a few clear examples.

As we climbed higher into the corrie, the terrain became more interesting. The beck coming down the hillside was full of bryophytes, with thick black mats of Jungermannia exsertifolia, including some fertile shoots. Other species included Philonotis fontana, Dichodontium palustre and D. pellucidum, and a patch of Palustriella commutata. It was nice to see a small cushion of Anomobrym julaceum and a couple of nice bright green patches of Anoectangium aestivum as well as Amphidium mougeotii. We continued across and up to reach a large rock face, where there was more Frullania fragilifolia, and a small patch of Gymnomitrion obtusum (the rounded leaf lobes were clearly diagnostic when checked later under the microscope). Somewhere round here I found a small moss in a crevice in the ground, which had tongue-shaped leaves a bit like an Encalypta. On checking later, it turned out to be Leptodontium flexifolium, which was an exciting new find for me.  We had a lunch break here and I left early to check my finds at home. It felt like a productive morning, nice to be out in the fresh air and always good to catch up with people in person.

Clare Shaw


The weather is key to the enjoyment of montane lichens. We’d postponed this trip after the original date got itself a yellow weather warning. And then the actual day dawned misty in the valley. But as I reached the top of the Struggle I came out into the sun. Hurrah! The weather gods were being kind, and as we (6 lichen folk and a lone bryologist) gathered in the Kirkstone Pass car park an osprey wheeled above the mist to cheer us on. The crows didn’t like it though…

The great thing about that car park is that you are high up at the start of the day. A less good thing is that it’s a busy place (I counted 7 overnighting motorhomes and a strong toilet smell). It’s also a spot that spoils you for choice: so many rocks and so little time! We went west (towards the quarry and below the corrie) out of the crowds and above the clouds. There were acid rock species for everyone to enjoy. Allan Pentecost was very helpful when it came to identification of more difficult species, as well as confirming the things we’d learnt ourselves during lockdown and pointing out things we’d never thought of! There were plentiful thalli of  Ophioparma ventosa (and the lichenicolous fungus Muellerella ventosicola); lots of Pertusaria corallina. We started to get to grips with Lecideas (lactea and confluens) and Porpidias (macrocarpa and soredizodes).  Clare impressed us with the moss Ptilidium ciliatum. A damp rock face produced Miriquidica pycnocarpa f. sorediata and the hi-vis Arthrorhaphis citrinella. And just to the side of it, Chris found Cetraria muricata with its many spinules.

We moved a bit further west in search of more basic outcrops. The beck provided isidiate Collema glebulentum; a line of little cliffs had wood sage and roseroot and alpine ladies mantle. There was Ionaspis lacustris; Pertusaria corallina adjacent to P. pseudocorallina for comparison purposes;  the slightly jaundiced thallus of Diploschistes scruposus with those lovely hollowed (urceolate) apothecia;  and the somewhat scurfy Porpidia rugosa.

After lunch, Allan and Judith descended briefly and explored a gully. Massalongia carnosa and Pertusaria flavicans were the result. The others headed for a little outcrop with a hawthorn (Caz found what may be Phaeographis smithii: we await confirmation), Peltigera membranacea and Agonimia tristicula below. A damp cliff enabled Allan to show us the interesting black crust of Pyrenopsis subareolata. Dermatocarpon intestiniforme again hinted at slightly less acidic conditions. The discarded nappy was less pleasant. Higher up there was Peltigera praetextata and Collema flaccidum on beckside boulders; Allan found Fuscidea kochiana too.

But it was time to head back via an easy amble: despite not going very far we’d managed to find over 80 species. And there’s still so much to explore from that car park. Future trips could go up into the corrie; further round towards the quarry; up on the east side of Red Screes; beyond the Kirk stone itself and maybe then we could think about crossing the road…

Pete Martin

Allan Pentecost added, “For interest, the stream which we were looking at, which seems to be unnamed, had a pH of 7.4, a calcium content of 8 ppm and a specific conductivity of 113 uS/cm.”

Thanks to Judith, Pete and Chris for the photos:

Lichen Trip report

Roudsea trip report 27/6/21


It was a small and select group of three who gathered on a lovely June day to look at lichens at Roudsea: this time the bryophyte group was rather larger!

For once, we made it out of the car park quite quickly: maybe the midges helped. But not before we had considered the question of whether to record something present on a temporary woodpile that obviously hadn’t originated there. What’s the form? We ambled slowly up the central valley boardwalk: contorted old yews growing out of the limestone cliffs gave shady sites for Acrocrodia conoidea; the hazels had Arthonia elegans: the variety of sedges gave lots of distraction opportunities.

Further on, just off the boardwalk, we lingered by a remarkable patch of Peltigera leucophlebia. Dull grey in the dry conditions, a quick dousing with water turned it bright green. I normally see P. leucophlebia in small scrappy patches on the open fellside or above limestone outcrops, but here it grows prolifically over mossy boulders and up a tree, covering maybe 2m by 2m, despite being shaded. The buckthorn above provided a good selection of nitrophilous species.

Further along the valley we examined more open limestone outcrops: Gyalecta jenensis, Opegrapha calcarea, Verrucaria baldensis, Caloplaca chrysodeta, and some lovely wild Aquilegias were found. Nearby ashes had Thelotrema lepadinum. But it was lunchtime so, in search of a sunnier sandwich spot, we headed out to the coast.

We ended up in a lovely suntrap with a view over tidal waters; a train crossed the viaduct and shelduck flew past. Nearby siliceous rocks provided a contrast to the morning’s limestone species: bright yellow Xanthoria parietina; the stretching lobes of Anaptychia runcinata; Rhizocarpon geographicum and R. richardii; Lecanora muralis, L. polytropa and L. gangaleoides.

Heading back through the oakwoods, we found Anisomeridium polypori and Parmotrema perlatum. But the woods weren’t rich in lichens: they have obviously been managed by clear felling in the past and will also have received pollution from Ulverston and Barrow over the recent centuries.

An “extra time” excursion onto the Moss boardwalk produced more species: acidophiles like Hypogymnia physodes and Parmeliopsis ambigua on pine trees; Mycoglaena myricae on bog myrtle and Normandina pulchella on hazel.

So, whilst we didn’t find any stunningly rare species at Roudsea, there was lots of interest. The variety of habitats make the place very special. Thank you to Natural England for the permission to visit- I’m sure I will want to return to find yet more things lurking there.

Pete Martin

Bryophyte Lichen Trip report

Smardale Trip report 25/5/21

Well, it was great to meet up again for real, rather than over a screen!

Even though the weather forecast deteriorated over the preceding days, sixteen of us met in the new car park at Smardale. We wished each other “Happy New Year’s” in the flesh.

Eventually 110 lichen species and 62 bryophyte species were recorded – good effort!


Those interested in lichens remained in the car park- for quite a while. Some willows and ashes provided a variety of corticolous species, many of them lovers of nutrient enrichment: there was some well-developed Parmelina pastillifera with bun shaped isidia. The car park wall provided a variety of jelly lichens including Leptogium pulvinatum, Leptogium gelatinosum and Collema auriforme as well as limestone-loving crusts such as the pinky Acrocordia conoidea.

Eventually the group set off along the old railway line, Melanohalea laciniatula was quickly found on a trackside tree, and further along there was the pepperpot lichen, Pertusaria pertusa. Lecidella elaeochroma provided an opportunity to test whether everyone’s C, bleach, was still working. Non-lichen interest included water avens and St George’s mushroom.

The first railway viaduct provided an opportunity to look at a lot more limestone lichens, including Hymenilia prevosti ( it scratches green) and Caloplaca flavocitrina. Cladonia coniocraea was found growing at the foot of a wall. Some of us were more interested in the Peltigera species growing profusely on mossy log piles: P praetextata and membranacea were identified, but could that be P. rufescens? They are such variable things…and then a steam train came over the Settle-Carlisle line to distract us again.

Further progress along the track saw Thelotrema lepadinum being found, and a fine example of multi-tiered Cladonia chlorophaea: the cups bore cups which themselves bore cups. Traveling down into the valley through the woods was a tempting idea, but in the end we continued along the railway line.

Lunch was taken by a small viaduct over a beck: the sandstone construction gave us new lichens for the day: probable Lecidea lithophila, Porpidia tuberculosa (the K+UVpurple reaction was demonstrated) , Lecanora soralifera and Rhizocarpon reductum. Parmelia saxatilis was prolific on the railings.

A short distance further on and we were at the main viaduct. Swifts angled around us as Ochrolechia parella, Caloplaca crenularia, Pertusaria lactescens, Rhizocarpon geographicum, Melanelixia fuliginosa and Lecidea grisella and L. fuscoatra were found on the sandstone. Could that isidiate jelly lichen be  Scytinium magnussonii? No, John Douglass’s later research revealed it was a young Collema fuscovirens

The limestone cliffs just further on provided examples of squamulose lichens Romjularia lurida, Acarospora cervina, Toninia aromatica and T. sedifolia. We hoped that the limekilns might provide shelter from the rain and more interesting species, but were a bit of a disappointment. Time was moving on. The bryologists had called it a day, and as some of the party turned for home, we decided to as well. The woods would have to wait for another day.

So back to the car park it was.  An extra-time short journey down the railway line towards Waitby provided some lovely thalli of Parmotrema perlatum, more Pertusaria pertusa and Anisomeridium polypori on the large trackside ash trees.

As so often, there’s lots of scope for a return visit in the future. Thanks to everyone for a grand day out, and Cumbria Wildlife Trust for permission to visit.

Pete Martin


The bryo group spent some time in the car park, admiring the limestone wall which had a few interesting species, including Porella platyphylla and a nice example of Ditrichum gracile (which we now have to call Flexitrichum gracile), showing typical lax growth with stems a few centimetres long. We were all feeling a little rusty after several months without meetings, so it was good to have a look at some common species. Heading into the woodland, there was a patch of Anomodon viticulosus, frequent on limestone, while the trees had Zygodon rupestris, Ulota phyllantha, Orthotrichum stramineum and patches of a gemmiferous Metzgeria species. Peter Bullard checked it with his ultra-violet LED light and thought that the reaction, or lack of it, ruled out M. violacea, so this seems likely to be Metzgeria consanguinea.

We managed to continue at a reasonably brisk pace to reach the first viaduct which crossed the track. Walls under the viaduct had a good coverage of bryophytes, mainly limestone-loving species: Ctenidium molluscum, Neckera complanata, Schistidium crassipilum, Tortella tortuosa, Homalothecium sericeum. Taking the path down the slope after the viaduct, we headed into denser woodland on a very slippy muddy path. The ground was damp and shaded, with patches of Plagiochila porelloides and P. asplenioides. Peter Bullard was pleased to find Loeskeobryum brevirostre, an Atlantic woodland species, and Belinda Lloyd spotted some Radula complanata. We reached the beck at the bottom of the slope, and although there was only access to a limited stretch of the water we found a few interesting species, thanks to Kerry Milligan and Stuart Colgate who had come in wellies and waded into the stream to fetch samples of Fontinalis antipyretica, Cinclidotus fontinaloides and Platyhypnidium riparioides. There was also a good stretch of limestone wall with additional species Thamnobryum alopecurum, Didymodon insulanus, Scapania aspera, and Plagomnium rostratum creeping over stones at the base.  

Most of us then returned to the main track, while Kerry and Stuart crossed the beck to check the opposite bank and slope, where they found Nowellia curvifolia, Riccardia palmata and Trichostomum brachydontium. A few of us continued across the viaduct and after a lunch break, headed to the quarry. This section of the track has more exposed limestone rock faces where there was Homalothecium lutescens. In the quarry itself we found a nice patch of Trichostomum crispulum and quite a bit of Syntrichia montana (previously S. intermedia). A few people had left by then and it was getting well into the afternoon when a heavy downpour sent the rest of us scurrying back to the car park. It was great to meet up with people ‘for real’ and get our brains back into bryophyte mode, as well as having the opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss IDs. We were particularly pleased to have such a good turnout and meet some new faces – thanks to everyone for coming!

Clare Shaw

Bryophyte Lichen

A Cryptogam Flora of the Coniston Limestone

For the last decade, Allan Pentecost been surveying the cryptogam flora (lichens, bryophytes, ferns) of the Coniston Limestone (now Dent Group) in the English Lake District. This is a narrow belt of limestone that divides the volcanic rocks of the high Lakeland fells from the softer Silurian rocks to the south.

Allan’s paper has just appeared in the Carlisle Natural History Society publication “Lakeland Naturalist”. It shows that the Coniston Limestone has an exceptionally rich cryptogam flora, owing to its varied lithology and complex surfaces, resulting from differential weathering.

Available to download here with permission from Allan Pentecost and Carlisle Natural History Society.
Pentecost, A. (2021). A cryptogam flora of the Coniston Limestone (now Dent Group) in the English Lake District. Lakeland Naturalist 9(1): 16-29.