Tom Ottley Crew

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday 18 December 2012 07:00

On Sunday, morning I met the new county moss recorder, Tom Ottley. We went to have a look at a suite of VERY small acrocarps on a small south-facing bank on the north side of Malling Down. Now to mix things up a bit, I was doing this about 20 hours into a 24 hour fast. A rather dodgy stomach (that the doctor has just told me is norovirus) meant I had to take some drastic measures. Having a very high metabolism, this was very tough but I did find looking at mm tall plants a welcome distraction. So first up we have a plant that only this week Tom recorded here as a first for Sussex, it's the nationally scarce Microbryum starckeanum and is typically 1 -2 mm!

Just when you think things couldn't get any smaller, Tom said 'There is something growing UNDER the starckeanum'! It took a little while to see, but there indeed were the prostrate shoots of the even smaller Microbryum curvicolle.
However, it was the third Microbryum that has to win the prize for most unfortunately named moss of the day. With shoots less than 1 mm tall, here is...Microbryum rectum in all its glory!
Another very nice looking moss was this nationally scarce Pleurochaete squarrosa with some leaves showing their characteristic shrivelled nature when dry.
And also this Common Aloe-moss Aloina aloides with its distinctive leaves.
And here is the man himself on the south facing bank! I added nine acrocarps to my list today (4143) and also managed to learn an entire new community in the process which will help me to help the Trust conserve these little known plants!

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