Wessex Bryology Group Programme 2017-18

Here is the programme of meetings for the coming season. We have tried to include a good range of habitats and sites across Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset and Hampshire. A key aim of the group is to encourage those who are new to the subject to become more experienced and confident at identifying bryophytes. Beginners are most welcome at all our meetings. There is no formal membership or constitution and each person goes out at his/her own risk. The only equipment needed is a hand lens (x10 or x20) and some paper packets for collecting specimens. Many of the sites we plan to visit include wet and muddy areas so boots are advisable. We will usually eat a packed lunch on site. All meetings start at 10.30am and finish between 3pm and 4pm.

Contact: Andrew Branson tel: 01747 838223; e-mail andrew(at)3alpacas.co.uk or Sharon Pilkington tel: 01373 827074/07801 627449; e-mail: sharon.pilkington1(at)btinternet.com. Unless stated there is no need to book, but in the event of snow/ treacherous driving conditions, please call Andrew or Sharon to check the meeting is going ahead.


Polytrichum juniperinum male.
Photo credit: Sharon Pilkington

Sunday 10th December 2017 – Quantocks, near Taunton, Somerset

A chance to explore some of the upper reaches of the wooded combes and wet heaths of the central Quantocks. Some interesting western species, such as Plagiochila spinulosa and Fissidens polyphyllus, have been discovered in this area in recent years. What else is lurking in these sheltered headwaters and springs?

Meet at car park at Dead Woman’s Ditch at ST161381 off the minor road between Crowcombe and Nether Stowey.

Leader: Andrew Branson

Pterygoneurum ovatum.
Photo credit: Sharon Pilkington

Sunday 28th January 2018 – Hatch Hill and Combe Hill, near Street, Somerset

In 2013 the diminutive but striking moss Pterygoneurum papillosum was discovered new to Britain and strong populations were subsequently found in the unimproved limestone grassland of Somerset’s Polden Hills.

We will look for this rarity at Hatch Hill, where it was found in 2015, and will search limestone grassland and woodland for e.g. Thuidium assimile, Didymodon acutus, Entodon concinnus and Leptodon smithii. If we’re very lucky we might also see Pterygoneurum ovatum, Ephemerum recurvifolium and Pottiopsis caespitosa, noted from similar habitats nearby.

Meet in the Combe Hill Wood car park off Reynald’s Way east of Compton Dundon at ST503329.

Leader: Sharon Pilkington

Orthotrichum lyellii.
Photo credit: Sharon Pilkington

Sunday 18th February 2018 – Blackmoor Reserve, Charterhouse, Somerset

Blackmoor lies in the historic lead mining district of the Mendip Hills and is important for its archaeology and ecology alike. The reserve’s habitats are diverse and include metal-rich spoil, pools, streams and wet woodland. Numerous bryophyte species are found here, some of which are rare elsewhere in Somerset.

Grimmia donniana grows in abundance on lead-rich vitreous slag and is found nowhere else in the county. Other specialities include Ptychomitrium polyphyllum, Cephaloziella stellulifera and Lophozia excisa. Plagiomnium ellipticum and Fissidens adianthoides are frequent in wet ground and willow carr is rich in epiphytes, including Colura calyptrifolia and Orthotrichum striatum.

Meet in the small reserve car park at the end of a no-through road from the outdoor activities centre in Charterhouse at ST505556. Welly boots would be useful.

Leader: Sharon Pilkington

Syntrichia papillosa.
Photo credit: Sharon Pilkington

Sunday 18th March 2018 – Chase Wood on the Dorset-Wiltshire border

Chase Wood is part of the Cranborne Chase AONB and includes a fine area of wood pasture, with recent conifer planting, on chalk. At this time of year it will be good for identifying epiphytes, such as Ulota and Orthotrichum, and there should be a good range of species in the area.

Park at Shermel Gate at ST989192, just beyond Deanland on Dean Road from Sixpenny Handley

Leader: Andrew Branson