Monday, 21 February 2011

Little things

This is a great time to have a look at mosses: many of the fruiting capsules are ripe and ready to release their spores for the next generation. I really like the setae ('stems') that support the capsules: many of them are translucent and come in various shades of green, yellow or red. If you can get a back-lit shot, then the results can be very beautiful indeed, as this shot of Tortula muralis shows:

Notice that the red capsule lids are sliding upwards over the capsules as they expand to make room for the growing spores.

There has been a recent trend to 'dumb-down' the names of many species of mosses, lichens and fungi by giving them 'friendly English' names. Tortula muralis would be known as Wall Screw-moss if this system became more popular. I'll stick with the latin binominal.

Since the primary purpose of the setae is to give the spores the best chance of distribution via exposure to wind and/or rain, I find the system used by the moss Grimmia pulvinata to be almost perverse: the setae are invariably strongly curved, leading to a situation where the capsules are always buried below the leaves of the parent plant:

I cannot think of a reason for this system, but Grimmia pulvinata is one of the more common mosses on our wall tops, so it obviously works well enough.

A quick couple of flower shots:

Snowdrops fully opened
And a glimpse of the first daisy of the year: Groundsel:

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