Moss and Lichen Flora of the Fells Project, June 6th, 2018

June 06, 2018 Wednesday, Sector #6 Middlesex Fells, Cascade

Wednesday Walter Kittredge and I go out into the field together to scout and collect mosses and lichens in the Fells and Harold Parker State Forest. Walter was very excited this week to show me the Cascade, which is a rock outcrop in the eastern part of the Fells. The trailhead is off of Washington Street in Melrose, and it was a GREAT place for mosses. We started up the trail and quickly came to a rock wall that water was streaming down. This was very exciting for me and I immediately thought of the water moss,
Fontinalis. Sure enough as we approached the wet rock we could see bundles of Fontinalis growing off of the rock wall. Fontinalis is an aquatic moss that mostly grows in streams or in places that have constant running water. It was very cool to see it attached to the rock wall! Something else that we found, and I later identified, was a Lichen on the rock wall: Dermatocarpon luridum. This lichen was a new species for the Fells which is always very exciting.

Another couple of fun finds we had on the wet rock wall included the freshwater algae Lemanea, and a bright yellow-green moss with red stems- Philonotis fontana. (see pictures below).

Lemanea algae under dissecting microscope:

Philonotis fontana (note: red stem)

After much fun collecting at the rock wall we decided to walk to the left of it and start to climb up and over it; following the trail. Much to our surprise we found Sphagnum peat moss growing on rocks with the common haircap moss, Polytrichum commune! Sphagnum is the main moss that makes up bogs, so it was a shock to see it on a vertical rock slope growing with Polytrichum. As we made our way down the trail I pointed out a red-looking moss growing on a rock. Today I got the chance to finally look at it and it was Andreaea rothii, which is a rare moss. I knew it was Andreaea right away because of the sporophytes which are very distinct looking. They split and open in a very particular way, forming a sort of chinese lantern. (see picture below)

This was definitely a cool find since I’ve never collected this species before.

Unfortunately when we climbed to the top of the Cascade, we saw that the whole area around the Shilly Shally Brook was occupied by invasive shrubs of multiflora rose and rufous willow, despoiling what is one of the most beautiful places in the Fells.

From the Cascade we took a short hike to Melrose Rock where we enjoyed the view, and collected the diverse lichens found there before breaking for lunch and returning to the lab to identify our finds.

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