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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Handsome Woollywort and other bryophytes in a High Weald ghyll wood, East Sussex, 25.03.24

This post focusses on the bryophytes of a ghyll wood in the High Weald National Landscape.

Common Tamarisk-Moss; Endive Pellia and Handsome Woolywort

Because Handsome Woollywort, Trichocolea tomentella, is a rare species in Sussex, I have not given the location of this wood. T. tomentella is characteristic of Atlantic Woodland in the UK. The warm-wet (oceanic) micro-climate of the High Weald ghyll woods allows Atlantic bryophytes to prosper.

All sections of text in italics are quotations, sources sited.

Except from "Ghyll woodland bryophytes" chapter of The biodiversity of the Wealden ghyll woodlands: species richness, abundance and distribution patterns in a rare and fragmented habitat Andrew R. Flint PhD Thesis, University of Brighton . March 2014

The Wealden ghyll woodlands support a rich flora of woodland bryophytes ... They are particularly important for many oceanic species which are restricted in the south-east of England to the ghyll woodlands, and that are hundreds of kilometres from other British populations ... Oceanic bryophytes can occur in all of the major climatic zones, from the cool temperate to the equatorial tropical ... Many bryophyte species ....only occur under these "oceanic" conditions ... In Britain and mainland Europe they are sometimes referred to as ‘Atlantic’ bryophytes due to their geographic distribution in woodlands on the Atlantic seaboard, however, in reference to species occurring in Britain, the terms oceanic bryophyte and Atlantic bryophyte are synonymous ... In Britain, the main populations of oceanic bryophytes are found in the Atlantic oakwoods on the western seaboard ... . Southern England is a relatively dry part of the country and as such moisture-loving bryophytes are absent from the majority of the region, the notable exception being the Wealden ghyll woodlands ... . The presence of rich assemblages of moisture-loving bryophytes in the ghyll woodlands is explained through the occurrence of suitable geology, topography and humidity, along with the likelihood that the ghylls experienced continuous tree cover during recent periods of deforestation ... . Within many ghyll woodlands, sandstone outcrops and boulders combine with high relative humidity levels to create a damp sandstone substrate that is an internationally rare habitat type .... .The damp sandstone is home to a number of nationally rare ‘sandrock specialist’ bryophytes Andrew+Flint+PhD+2014+CD+Rom+version+-+scanned+signature.pdf (

I am only an amateur naturalist; thus all identifications are provisional; if you note a mistake in identification please feel free to tell me. If you want to contact me about any aspect of this blog, email me at simeon[underscore]elliott[at]gmail[dot]com.

Please note this post is not a systematic survey of the bryophytes of this location (I do not have the level of knowledge, nor did I have sufficient time, to do that); it is just the things I (we) happened to notice! I went to this location with another amateur naturalist, with much knowledge of the biodiversity of ghyll woods

I have just included some highlights of our visit in this post; if you want to see all the things I observed they can be viewed on my iNaturalist public page: Observations · iNaturalist 

You do not need an iNaturalist account to view my public iNaturalist page. The page opens by default to "grid view" and search for the observations for 25.03.24 (locations not visible)

This post starts with Handsome Wollywort, and then continues with the bryophytes that I saw in alphabetical order. After the bryophytes are a few fungi, lichens and insects of interest

Handsome Woollywort , Trichocolea tomentella

Handsome woollywort is an unusually leafy liverwort, although, on closer inspection, these leaves turn out to be extremely thin networks of cell filaments. This plant stands out from other liverworts because of its fluffy appearance

(40x microgram)

This species is most widely distributed in damp woodlands and shaded ravines, and less frequently in wooded swamps. In favourable conditions it forms extensive patches amongst and over other bryophytes, such as Hookeria lucens, It also occurs occasionally in more open mesotrophic [containing medium levels of nutrients] flushes Atlas-of-British-and-Irish-Bryophytes-V1-155.pdf (

The T. tomentella I saw were in a wet flush, where springs run down the steep sides of the ghyll. It was growing amongst and over the mosses Hookeria lucens, Shining Hookeria, Rhizomnium punctatum, Dotted Thyme-Moss, Thuidium tamariscinum, Common Tamarisk-Moss and Pellia spp. and Riccardia chamedryfolia, Jagged Germanderwort, liverworts.

Handsome Woollywort

Part of the wet flush that the Handsome Woollyworts were growing in

Other bryophytes (alphabetical)

Mossy sandrocks of the ghyll

Amblystegium serpens, Creeping Feather-Moss, growing through and over, Peltigera praetextata, Dog Pelt Lichen

Apopellia endiviifolia. Endive Pellia, with Handsome Woollywort

Calypogeia fissa, Common Pouchwort

Cephalozia bicuspidata, Two-horned Pincerwort, growing over a Pellia sp.

The ghyll

Possibly Chiloscyphus polyanthos, St Winifrid’s Moss Liverwort

Hookeria lucens, Shining Hookeria

Leucobryum glaucum, Pincushion Moss

Lophocolea bidentata, Bifid Crestwort

Lophocolea heterophylla, Various-leaved Crestwort, with other bryophytes

Lophocolea heterophylla, showing its fruiting bodies

Small liverwort: probably Lophozia ventricosa, Tumid Notchwort

Probably Pellia endiviifolia, Endive Pellia with Bifid Crestwort

Probably Pellia endiviifolia, Endive Pellia, possibly with a slime mould on its thallus

Plagiothecium undulatum, Waved Silk-Moss aka "White Worms"

To left (ovoid leaves): Rhizomnium punctatum, Dotted Thyme-moss, possible with a bryophilous fungus

Riccardia chamedryfolia, Jagged Germanderwort

Scapania undulata, Water Earwort

Sphagnum palustre, Blunt-leaved Bog-moss growing with Hard Fern, Blechnum spicant in wet flush

Thuidium tamariscinum, Common Tamarisk-Moss

Some lichens

Pertusaria pertusa, Pepper-Pot Lichen, growing on tree trunk

Peltigera praetextata ,

Scaley Pelt lichen is predominantly a lichen species of western Atlantic woodlands

Some fungi

Exidia nigricans, Warlock's Butter

Possibly Cytospora spp. Cytospora Cankers

Some Vascular Plants

Chrysosplenium oppositifolium Opposite-leaved Golden-Saxifrage, an ancient wood indictaor specues

Probably Viola palustris Marsh/Bog Violet, in the wet flush

There has been a marked loss Marsh/Bog Violet on the South East

Some Insects

Tipula paludosa, European Crane Fly, ovipositing on the soft clay pf the ghyll bank

A Dragonfly nymph; at the bottom of the 30cm deep ghyll bed



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