Tuesday, 4 April 2017
Here's a species that is potentially overlooked and at first site you could be forgiven for thinking this is Dicranella heteromalla. It's not mentioned in the book as a similar species but that's exactly what it was called by an expert bryologist until he got it under the microscope. A distinguishing feature is the deciduous shoots but when absent it can hamper a safe ID. Under the microscope the basal cells will help separate D.denudatum from Dicranella heteromalla.
This was an interesting one as this sample was identified in the field by a professional bryologist as Cirriphyllum crassinervium so in theory it should have been straight forward to key out. However, after running through the key it became apparent that this wasn't Cirriphyllum crassinervium. The leaf tip was the first clue being obtuse and not abruptly contracting to leave a short apiculus. This avenue led me then to chose between Rhynchostegium and Scleropodium. The key says that Scleropodium has differing sizes in stem and branch leaves whereas Rhynchostegium has them all the same size. I could see varying leaf sizes so opted for Scleropodium. This group only has two species which can be separated by habit when wet and dry plus S.tourettii has much more concave leaves than S.cespitans looking more like Pseudoscleropodium purum. This species can be eliminated by the long pinnate growth unlike the bushy matted like habit of S.tourettii. As a postscript it is worth mentioning that Rhynchostegium murale is a similar looking plant and should be considered when identifying in the field perhaps.