Mosses are part of a plant group called bryophytes, which includes liverworts and hornworts. They are usually green, small, and are among the simplest of plants. Being a difficult group to identify knowledge about their distribution is far from complete; some survey work has been carried out at sites in Ayrshire such as at Corsehillmiur Wood, however there is little in the way of records for this group in the area.
Although small and low growing, bryophytes are critical to the functioning of healthy ecosystems. The west coast of Scotland provided particularity good conditions for this species as the climate is damp all year round, and does not experience extremes of temperature. Ayrshire oak woodlands are covered in brophytes due to the oceanic climate provided by the proximity to the Atlantic ocean. Two of the most familar species, typical of such woodlands, are Spotty featherwort Plagiochila punctata and Prickly featherwort Plagiochila spinulosa, which often grow together with Wilson’s filmy fern Hymenophyllum wilsonii on rocks and trees.
The abundance of peat bogs in Ayrshire make is a great place to see bryophyte communities, which are usually dominated by Sphagnum mosses and large leafy liverworts which the the bog is flash of colour. Bogs in East Ayrshire support a wide range of mosses, including Cow-horn Bog-mossSphagnum denticulatum and Red Bog-moss Sphagnum capillifolium. Closer to home, many species such as Red Beard-moss Bryoerythrophyllum recurvirostrum and Rough-stalked Feather-moss Brachythecium rutabulum can be found around our homes and gardens.
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