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  • Sim Elliott

Eridge Rocks: A wonderland of lichen, fungi, moss, liverworts and slime moulds. 04.01.23

This was the second time I have visited Eridge Rocks. It is easy to get to by bus from Brighton; take the 29 29 - Brighton-Tunbridge Wells | Brighton & Hove Buses and get off at Eridge Green, just a few hundred meters from the entrance to the reserve; although the journey on the bus can take nearly two hours when the traffic is not so good. The wonder that I experienced on my first trip - see Rocks, Trees, Fungi, Lichen, Bryophytes & Slime Molds. Eridge Rocks NR & Broadwater Warren. 19.11.22 (simelliott.net) - was not diminished by a return trip. If there is a place where you might expect to find Elves and Pixies; this is it. But it is nature that provides the wonder of Eridge Rocks, no fantasy is necessary to appreciate the location. But to appreciate Eridge Rocks diversity to the full, you need to look for the tiny (lichens, bryophytes (mosses and liverworts), and slime molds) as well as the huge (might ancient trees and rocks).


The photographs are in chronological order.


One of the glories of Eridge rocks is its range of Cladonia species lichens.

Probably Cladonia floerkeana, Devil's Matchsticks



The rocks of Ardingly Sandstone which give this Eridge Rocks their particular character are covered in bryophytes and lichens. This is the common Swan's-neck Thyme-Moss, Mnium hornum


This slime mold is in its plasmodial phase before it fruits. It is probably Arcyria ferruginea; species of amoeboid protists


More gelatinous blobs but this time a fungus not a slime mold: Common Jellyspot, Dacrymyces stillatus


And now a more "fluffy" affair: probably the early stage of Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa; another slime mold


Common Jellyspot, Dacrymyces stillatus, again


And a liverwort, Creeping Fingerwort, Lepidozia reptans. This common liverwort forms thin mats of pinnately branched, creeping plants. Shoots are 2–3 cm long and 1 mm wide. It is either yellowish-green or dark green, and has characteristic, hand-shaped leaves with 4 fingers at the tip that curve downwards towards the substrate. Lepidozia-reptans.pdf (britishbryologicalsociety.org.uk)

Liverworts are everywhere — from inner cities to the remotest wilderness! However, they are small plants that are easily overlooked growing in pavement cracks and hiding in damp shady spots. Despite their diminutive size they are making a big impact on our understanding of the evolution of plants. Liverworts are small flowerless plants with leaf-like lobes called a thallus, which looks like a lobed liver - hence their common name. What is a liverwort? | Sainsbury Laboratory (cam.ac.uk)


Another Cladonia sp lichen hanging on to the rocks of Ardingly Sandstone


Probably Silky Forklet-moss, Dicranella heteromalla


Droplets of "rusty" water, probably colour by the iron-rich geology of the Wealden clays rocks on a scurfy Lepraria sp lichen, possibly L. incana which is common on siliceous rocks (e.g. Ardingly Sandstone) in the east of the UK. see F.S, Dobson (2018) Lichens: An Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species pp. 259-261. The pink may be a lichenicolous fungi, i.e. a parasitic fungi which attacks a lichen


Probably Silky Forklet-moss, Dircanella heteromalia


Tress on rocks


Another Cladonia sp. lichen, possibly C. caespiticia, with moss


Probably Swan's Neck Thyme Moss, Mnium hiornum


A Mycena species fungus


Cladonia caespiticia. It is rare in the southeast, although Eridge Rocks' acidic ancient woodland fits its typical habitat. The single brown swollen apothecia (fruiting structure) above the squamules (scales) is distinctive according to British Lichen Society description. It also tested negative to potassium hydroxides and sodium hypochlorite spot tests, which C. caespitita is supposed to not react to


A Graphis "script" lichen, possibly Graphis scripta


with Hypogymnia physodes at the bottom. Art imitates nature: this branch looks like a collaboration that Kazimir Malevich and Georgia O'Keefe could have painted


Probably, Cypress-leaved Plait-moss Hypnum cupressiforme



Root Rot Fungus, Heterobasidion annosum


Trees on the Ardingly Sandstone rocks


Variable Oysterling, Crepidotus variabilis


Branch with three lichen. Left to right: a Lecanora "rim" lichen; Xanthoria parientina, Physcia adscendens


The wood above the rocks; with steep drops. Rock climbers are only allowed to climb small parts now - to avoid damage to the flora and funga


Swans-neck Thyme-moss; Mnium hornum


Probably Grey-cushioned Grimmia, Grimmia pulvinata aka Hedgehog Moss - showing its capsules (which contain its spores) on straight seta (stalks)


Creeping fingerwort, Lepidozia reptans


Cladonia floerkeana, Devil's matchsticks


A Campylopus sp moss, possibly C. pyriformis, Dwarf Swan-neck Moss


Possibly White Earwort, Diplophyllum albicans


Plicaturopsis cispa, Crimpled Gill


A Tubaria sp fungus, possibly T. furfuracea, Scurfy Twiglet mushroom


A past-its-best Mycena sp fungus


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