Moor to Coast

The woods before Greenway

22/03/2013 - 17:06

It's easy to get lost (both physically and, in a sense, mentally) in wide, open spaces. But sometimes the smaller pockets and corridors of land can be just as inspiring. To anyone picking up an OS map of South Devon for the first time, the woods before Greenway are easily missed. It is a relatively insignificant space on the face of it and has not been deemed worthy of a name.


And yet there is so much going on if only you take the trouble to look. Which is why we choose to come back throughout the year to witness the changing of the seasons first hand. One of the advantages of exploring a small space is that you can narrow your search and be more specific, picking up exactly where you left off last time around.




Turkeytail (Trametes versicolor)


This turkeytail colony (that's not the proper term but I cannot get rid of the notion of these specimens as a growing community) is taller and broader. It will wither in the warmer months but looks fresh as a daisy now. I would love to see the crimped edges brushed with hoar frost or covered in snow.


The funny thing about familiar places is that they constantly yield new things to see. We scoured the leaf litter and peered around every angle of each fallen log we passed.




Beechmast Candlesnuff (Xylaria carpophila)


This is rated a common species but it has eluded us before now. These tiny, white-tipped fungi grow out of rotting beechmast. I'm not sure whether they have contorted in this way to shy away from the sun. And the leaves growing out of the mast are another mystery. They don't look like beech leaves. Maybe another seed has somehow been deposited in the mast and sprouted.




Ramalina canariensis


A couple of weeks ago I would have assumed this was an Oakmoss specimen. I think there is one in the top right of the image above. But the shrivelled, cobwebby lobes in the centre are somewhat broader and belong to Ramalina canariensis.  




Bracket fungi

On the felled and fallen trunks, brackets are often seen. There are several different types and they can transform their shape and appearance through the year.



Cherry Laurel Tree (Prunus laurocerasus)


Like rhododendrons, laurels are an invasive species. The glossy leaves are loaded with cyanide which could be released if the tree is cut or burned to stop it spreading.




These bleached barnacle shells were an unusual thing to see in a wood. This post has come from somewhere on the coast and been deposited here. It will be interesting to see how soon fungi become present.

Soon after seeing this we cut through a gate at the far end and walked along the lane to buy some free range eggs. On the way back we deviated our route slightly, looping round an island of trunks and log piles.



Tiered Tooth (Hericium cirrhatum)


Seeing this from a distance, we were equally mystified. It looked a bit like a dried and drooping sunflower head, attached to the end of a felled trunk. Then we came closer and noticed the formation of what could only be petals. Except that this was not a wild flower. Amber droplets were present lower down while at the top was something resembling the shaggy, parted forelocks of certain breeds of cow.


Eventually I found a match in the Phillips field guide. This fungi has been classified as 'occasional' but also as increasing its range.



Variable-leaved Crestwort (Lophocolea heterophylla)



A closer, more chaotic view


I went through every page in the mosses section to no avail. I did not think they could possibly be liverworts so omitted that section. Days later I wondered if I had been mistaken and decided to recast the net. And guess what? They were there in the liverwort section all along. The tangles of these white, almost translucent stalks remind me of cress left to grow in pummets.




Cherry Laurel leaves


Because the leaves are toxic they are usually left alone by insects and almost always appear intact.






Two views of Beech Woodwart (Hypoxylon fragiforme)


The light was improving, making these normally dull-looking fungi sparkle.




Common Feather-moss (Eurhynchium praelongum)




Lady plays 'Peek-a-boo'

Nine times out of ten, the Lady takes up her snout trails and makes her own amusement. But understandably there are times when she feels we are looking at other things and not paying her enough attention. Here, she made an impromptu decision for a game of hide-and-seek to redress the balance.


We completed our saunter through the wood and walked the rest of the way into Galmpton along the lane. When the hedge at the side of the lane was replaced by a wall, we thought we take a closer look. Recent endeavours have revealed that there is rarely such a thing as bare stone.



Aspicilia calcarea


This was on top of the wall. You can't help thinking that there is an intricate language to be decoded. Every lichen-encrusted wall could contain a secret message.




This one was similar in appearance but lacked the characters in the areoles. Its cracks and colour are comparable to salt crystals. I haven't been able to identify this yet.




Here's another case to join our bulging file of unsolved mysteries.




The yellow specimen on top of the wall is most probably another Caloplaca flavescens. But although it ticks most of the right boxes I'm not altogether certain about the lobes. They seem both too broad and too short.





Leptogium plicatile


After scratching our heads to the scalp it was refreshing to encounter something quite unlike anything else. This was on the face of a wall along Greenway Road as we walked down in Galmpton. It's always satisfying to end the day on a high, with another new species. I'm not sure if our list will ever be entirely comprehensive but it is coming together nicely. It's a myth that you have to go to far-flung or exotic locations to see something spectacularly inspiring. There are a wealth of treasures to experience - even in the proverbial backyard.








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