Hookeria lucens

Shining Hookeria

I was so pleased to find this moss in Kenley den, just where Charles Howie recorded it in the 19th century. It was half hidden in a dip in the banking, quite overgrown with ivy, but the pale colour caught my eye.

Up close, it’s quite amazing. The large cells are easy to see, and the whole leaf has a shiny, translucent appearance.

In the shade of the banking, the leaves seemed almost transparent, lying in soft, overlapping layers.

I found another little patch in a more open location, but very crowded with other mosses. It will be interesting to see if it can survive the competition.

It was difficult to photograph the Hookeria lucens in its dark hollow, but here’s another couple of photos.

Pictures taken Nov 2020 and March 2021, Kenley Den.

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Orthodontium lineare

Cape Thread-moss

This moss is all about the capsules. At this time of year (March), it stands out. But…I’m not sure I would recognise it without the distinctive drooping capsules (I’ll have to go back in summer and have a look).

It seems to like growing on vertical surfaces, often old logs. Always in woodland, as far as I know. The seta arcs outwards then the capsule hangs its head. (Although sometimes the little beak points up.)

The leaves are thin and grassy, with a hint of a curve.

It forms thick patches and clumps, but I also found smaller clumps and single plants spreading over the log surface.

The name Cape Thread-moss reflects the fact that this little moss comes from other parts. I’ve read that it first arrived in England in 1910, and has spread northwards ever since. Certainly, Charles Howie doesn’t mention it in his 1889 guide “The Moss Flora of Fife and Kinross”. But it’s now very much at home.

The real challenge will be to recognise it without those capsules…

Pictures taken March 2020 and March 2021, Hill of Tarvit grounds and Kemback woods.

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Platyhypnidium riparoides

Long-beaked Water Feather-moss

Not the prettiest moss, but it grows in some exciting places, making sure it gets splashed or submerged in flowing water.

It can form branches, as in this picture:

I’ve also found it growing as small, single shoots on the side of a concrete drain.

The leaves are a reasonable size, quite broad, narrowing at the base.

I’ve found it in Ghoul’s den (where the victorian bryologist Charles Howie found it), growing on rocks in the burn. Also found it at the waterfall at Dura Den, both on the drain that takes the water under the road and on a log pretty much under the waterfall. The water and the darkness made photos difficult – I might add more later.

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Syntrichia papillosa

Marble Screw-moss

I found this moss in my garden, growing on an ornamental sycamore tree. It has a little white hair point, and I wondered about Syntrichia laevipila, but the points didn’t seem long enough. And then I noticed the way that the leaves are full of gemmae, and are incurved, and it all fell into place for Syntrichia papillosa.

Under the microscope, the gemmae are like green couscous.

I managed to get a picture of a couple of gemmae which had floated free of the leaf.

And a picture of a leaf, which has a top-heavy shape.

This next picture is a bit blurry but shows how the drying leaves curve inwards.

I might add a picture of the moss when it’s properly dry, for comparison, but here’s how it looked on a frosty morning in December.

But I still can’t work out why it would be called Marble Screw-moss…

Pictures taken December 2020, Cupar, Fife.

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Bryum argenteum

Silver-moss or Silver thread-moss

Just a trace of tiny silver buds, smaller than you would think possible. I’ve found this common moss growing among all sorts of other mosses, and each time it’s dwarfed by its tiny companions.

It’s very compact, each plant a tightly-rolled upright column ending in a pale tip. Some bigger than others.

I’ve found it on stone walls, on a decaying fence-post, on concrete, and growing happily on my car (with Bryum capillare). Where it really shouldn’t be.

The longest strands I’ve seen were growing out from a pavements edge, with nothing to hold them back.

The book says there are two kinds of leaf shape. I have to be honest, they’re just too small for me to get a single leaf under the microscope. The book also shows a picture of Bryum argenteum with colourful capsules, which I’d love to see but no luck so far.

But even without capsules, it’s very lovely.

Pictures taken 2020 in and around Cupar, Fife.

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Schistidium crassipilum

Thickpoint Grimmia

The red capsules make this moss look quite festive, under the handlens – so a good one to look at in December.

I’ve mostly been looking at the colonies on the sandstone parapet of the little footbridge along the Eden walk.

Trying to be sure whether I was looking at Schistidium crassipilum or S. apocarpum has been a bit of a journey. S. crassipilum is more common, but S. apocarpum is possible round here. I learnt that S. crassipilum “usually” has a noticeable hair-point. S. apocarpum also has a hair-point, but very short. The hair-point “may” be wavy in S. apocarpum but is always straight in S. crassipilum.

Looks long and straight in the pictures above. But not so noticeable in the next one.

The capsules of S. crassipilum are supposed to be largely hidden by sheathing leaves, while the capsules of S. apocarpum are “rather short”. The next picture was taken in October, and the leaves are definitely sheathing the capsules, but by December, the capsules were much less hidden.

Without having the two mosses to compare, it’s not easy to decide on some of these points, but on the whole I’m happy that what I’ve been looking at is S. crassipilum with some variation in terms of hair-point length etc.

S. crassipilum can grown in mats, clumps or mixed in with other mosses.

The capsules are quite easily overlooked until you start seeing them. Without capsules, I find this moss much more difficult to identify, so most of these pictures are from the winter months.

Pictures taken during 2019 and 2020, Eden walk, Cupar.

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Diplophyllum albicans

White Earwort

This is a lovely leafy liverwort which turns up in all sorts of pink or green shades, despite its “White earwort” name.

Close up, the main identifier is lines of cells running up the leaf, looking almost like a nerve.

The leaves have underlobes (not separate underleaves), shown below. The leaves have toothed tips too.

I found it growing on a steep sandstone bank, mixed in with other liverworts. I think it’s mixed with Scapania undulata (and something else) here.

The book says clumps of green gemmae are often found on the leaf tips, and perianths and capsules are fairly frequent. The large smooth green tips in this picture may be perianths.

And possibly there’s also a perianth in the picture below.

Under the microscope I could see clumps of something at the end of some leaf tips – not sure whether these are gemmae or something else.

I do like Diplophyllum albicans.

Pictures taken in Maspie Den, Falkland, October 2019 and November 2020.

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Radula complanata

Even Scalewort

A liverwort which, from a distance, looks like a green stain on a tree trunk.

Up close, it’s a mixture of beautifully arranged round leaves and untidy tube-like growths.

I think it usually grows on trees by water. I’ve seen it on Ash but also Scots Pine.

An unusual feature are the rhizoids growing on the undersides of the leaves.

The leaves have two lobes, the small one tucked underneath (just about visible in the picture above). There are also some “sub-branches” (below).

Also interesting are the male parts, the little tubes (perianths). Looking closely, I saw brown nut-like things hanging from some of them. I think these are the male bracts mentioned in the book.

The book says it’s also quite common to find gemmae on the edges of the leaves. I didn’t see that at Abernethy, but this photo from Dunkeld (February) might show them.

I learnt a new word – “incubous” – which means that the upper edge of a leaf overlaps the next leaf on the stem.

Definitely worth a closer look.

Pictures taken at Dunkeld and Abernethy, February and November 2020.

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Pseudocrossidium revolutum

(Formerly Barbula revoluta) Revolute Beard-moss

This light / olive green moss likes to grow in the mortar cracks of old stone walls, making tight, rounded turfs.

(In October, after lots of rain, it looked a lot greener.)

It’s one of those mosses which looks quite different in dry and damp states. Dry, it curls up into little corkscrews.

Damp, it spreads out wide.

However, the main distinguishing feature of this moss is difficult to see without a microscope. The sides of the tiny leaves scroll in, almost reaching the centre.

Although there’s another moss which does this (Pseudocrossidium hornschuchianum), I understand it has leaves which scroll inward down their full length, and it’s brighter green and more pointy.

I’ve now started looking for P. revolutum all round town! Found this clump and checked its leaves:

There will be more, I’m sure.

Pictures taken August and September 2020, Cupar.

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Didymodon insulanus

Cylindric Beard-moss.  It used to be called Barbula cylindrica.

Didymodon insulanis dry on wall

I’m going out on a limb with this one – these little mosses are difficult for me.  But until I know better, I’ve decided that the little orangey-brown moss on top of the wall is Didymodon insulanis.

From what I’ve read, this moss also comes in green, but it’s the orange/olive patches which have caught my eye.  “Ginger”, I’d call it.

Close up, it looks quite different wet and dry.  When it’s wet, you can see the starfish spread of the leaves, which the book describes as a spiral.

Didymodon insulanis after rain det

When dry, the leaves are curled and twisted.

Didymodon insulanis curls

Even at a distance, it looks different when wet (left) or dry (right).

Mr Watson says it grows in rather loose, ill-defined tufts on soil, which makes me hesitate a bit in going for Didymodon insulanus.  But under the microscope it all matches the illustrations in his book, and the BSS Guide (“the book”) says it comes in loose tufts or patches while stone walls are included in the habitat list.  So my tight little wall patches seem to be covered by this.

Didymodon insulanis open 2

Didymodon insulanis det

Didymodon insulanis after rain

I’m going to keep an eye out for the same moss growing on soil, which may be more typical.

By November, the same clump had turned bright green.

Didymodon insulanis Nov closest



I found some pictures taken at Ben Lawers in 2019, which I had identified as Didymodon insulanus.  But I can’t remember how thoroughly I checked, and D. insulanus is very like D. vinealis.  The pictures include some capsules, which the books say are rare/very rare for both D. insulanus and D. vinealis…however, I’m going to add them in here for the time being at least.  Lovely twisted filiforme peristome teeth.

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