Bryophyte report on visit to Chedington Woods

Chedington Woods

Andrew Branson | 16-02-2023

Bryophyte report on visit to Chedington Woods

Afternoon visit to an area of sloping W8 ash/field maple wood pasture and scrub (Pete’s Meadow). This contained a mix of standard and old coppiced ash, with the field maple mostly on old boundary banks. Also, a scatter of old hazel coppice. The 1888 map shows this as open ground, so most of the woodland will be of recent origin. East Ground had a few standard trees of ash and oak in the meadow.

There were mostly common species on the banks, with the large liverwort Plagiochila asplenoides on one damp bank. The main interest in this part of the wood is the epiphytes on the ash trees. These include typical species of basic bark such as Homalothecium sericeum, Neckera complanata and Isothecium alopecuroides. A single ash at ST50320811 has a nice population of Neckera (Leptodon) smithii (Prince-of-Wales Feather Moss). This is a classic moss of basic parkland trees. It is a southern species and has its UK headquarters in Dorset. Several trees have good populations of Neckera pumila, a species of more humid western woods. There are also patches of the tiny liverwort Myriocoleopsis minutissima (Minute Pouncewort) on some of the ash. This species was formerly considered a mostly coastal species, but has increasingly been found inland in recent decades. A concrete block near the top entrance to the compartment provided some different species, including fruiting Didymodon rigidulus, a species mostly found on sheltered base-rich walls.

From a bryophyte point of view the open, partly grazed habitat of Pete’s Meadow is excellent for these plants as it provides a good balance of light and humidity, which suits many of these species. Periodic grazing helps to prevent too much bramble and the growth of ivy on the trunks which will inhibit both the lichens and the mosses.

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Top section of Pete’s Meadow showing the open grassy habitat, with and hazel.

East Ground showing the scatter of standard ash and oak trees.