09 February 2013

An adaptable epiphyte

Lesser Yoke-moss growing on an Ash trunk at Cwmgwarch
showing the curved setae (fruit stalks) which are a key id feature.

Lesser Yoke-moss (Zygodon conoideus) is a frequent epiphyte on trees in our area, an epiphyte being a plant that grows on another plant, using it only for mechanical support, and unlike parasitic plants does not derive any nutrient from the host plant. So what about a plant that grows on a steel pipe? Blueish Veilwort (Metzgeria violacea) is clearly a resourceful epiphytic liverwort and is seen here growing 'epi-pipe-ically' below a bridge in Crynant. Only one aspect of the painted pipe appears to provide the right conditions, but here the plant is able to flourish on this unusual habitat. The close up image shows the distinctive thin branches bearing pom-pom tips, in fact made up of clusters of gemmae (asexual reproductive propagules).

Blueish Veilwort

Whiskered Veilwort (Metzgeria consanguinea) is closely related to Blueish Veilwort and is shown here growing epiphytically on the stems of Gorse at Cwmgwrach. A key feature separating it from Blueish Veilwort is that the gemmae don't form pom-pom tips at the branch tips, but are spread along the edges of the thin branches.
Whiskered Veilwort

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