New and interesting bryophyte records from West Sussex

Source: Matcham, Howard. “New and interesting bryophyte records from West Sussex.” Sussex Botanical Recording Society Newsletter, no. 74 (May 2012).


By the end of June 2011 I had completed the Sussex Bryophyte Atlas database comprising some 9,500 post 1960 tetrad and hectad bryophyte records; as I have mentioned in a previous Newsletter the database is a compilation of first tetrad and hectad records – not all records of bryophytes recorded as these number in the tens of thousands and unfortunately not all are in a county or national database. On completion the database was sent to SxBRC, who kindly agreed to pass them on to the NBN Gateway where they were published on 14th September 2011.  SxBRC have also agreed to the British Bryological Society request for access to my database for the forthcoming second edition of the Atlas of Bryophytes of Britain and Ireland.

For a well-worked county such as Sussex, new vice-county records are few and far between, but this year has been an exception and in April I found the liverwort Lophocolea fragrans (Fragrant Crestwort) on flints in secondary woodland at Goodwood, where literally thousands of flints cover the woodland floor and dozens are covered with this minute species.  Elsewhere in southern England this species can be seen under dense scrub at Fairlight Glen in East Sussex and small colonies exist on the Isle of Wight and at Portland in Dorset.

The moss Myrinia pulvinata (Flood-moss) has been discovered by Tom Ottley at New Bridge, Billingshurst, growing on the trunks of Oak and Ash by the side of the partially restored Wey and Arun Canal, which at this point is above the adjacent River Arun. There is very little flow in this part of the canal as the restoration is incomplete, but there is considerable silt on the trunks of the trees which has been carried down by the adjacent river; this is an incredible find as, apart from a record from Dorset, it is not seen again until Monmouthshire and Herefordshire.  There is a 1913 record from Barcombe Mill on the River Ouse in vc14, East Sussex, collected by W.E. Nicholson and deposited in the herbarium at Cambridge University (CGE) – two collections are in the herbarium and they were subsequently checked by Chris Preston (BRC) and are correctly identified.  This moss is very similar to Leskea polycarpa (Many-fruited Leskea) and may well have been overlooked as both grow in the flood zone of rivers and canals.  My thanks to Tom for supplying me with details of his find.

At the beginning of December the British Bryological Society southern group visited Graffham Common and, submerged in a deep ditch, Peter Jones found a large thalloid hepatic with markedly crisped lobes; on sending it to the British Bryological Society Recorder for hepatics it has proved to be the hornwort Anthoceros punctatus (Dotted Hornwort) not previously recorded from vc13, West Sussex, and a tremendous discovery.