Eleven members met on Saturday 24 March for the Annual Moss Walk, led by Sean O’Leary. The chosen venue was the hidden treasure of Greenfield Copse, bordering on Watlington Park and owned by the National Trust. The small door in the wall opposite the Tree Barn leads to a truly beautiful ancient woodland, often missed by passers-by. The first signs of spring were clear, with Hazel catkins in flower, Bluebell leaves showing and, at the bottom of the valley, some possible Wild Daffodils prompted discussion. However, we were concentrating on the mosses, which were fairly typical of such a site. Acid loving species such as Mnium hornum, Dicranella heteromalla and Pseudotaxiphyllum elegans were present on the surface soil higher up, together with some common ‘epiphytes’ (those growing on trees) such as Orthotrichum affine and Cryphaea heteromalla. On the exposed chalkier soil lower down the valley we found Cirriphyllum crassinervium, Thamnobryum alopecurum and Plagiomnium undulatum. Some species such as Brachythecium rutabulum were ubiquitous and, in fruit, provided a beautiful demonstration of the amazing ‘peristome’ structure, the minute teeth arranged around the capsule mouth, which open and close according to humidity, to release the moss spores. A beautiful location, with some luxuriant mosses.
Report by Sean O’Leary
Pictures by Sue White and John Thacker