Tuesday 21 May
Atlantic lejeunea (Lejeunea mandonii)
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Atlantic lejeunea fact file
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Atlantic lejeunea description
This very small, rare plant is one of the 'leafy' liverworts, which forms thin yellow-green patches on rocks and other bryophytes.
- Length of creeping stem: up to 1 cm
Atlantic lejeunea biology
Across its range, Atlantic lejeunea has a primarily oceanic distribution and favours areas with at least 160 wet days per year. It is found in sheltered and shady woodlands, in ravines, on north and north-east facing cliffs as well as rocky overhangs, all near to the coast.Top
Atlantic lejeunea range
This species is endemic to Europe, being found only in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands and Madeira. Its distribution in the UK is limited to the Atlantic coastal regions and before 1970, it had been recorded from six sites, three in Cornwall and three in Scotland. However, in recent years, it has only been found at two of its Cornish sites, and its current status in Scotland is uncertain.Top
Atlantic lejeunea habitat
This liverwort has been found growing on other species of liverwort and moss, as well as on rocks and elderly ash, elm or oak tree trunks.Top
Atlantic lejeunea status
Classified as Endangered in the UK.Top
Atlantic lejeunea threats
The principle threats to this species are the deterioration of water quality throughout its range, through agricultural run-off and other forms of pollution, and the colonisation of much of its former habitat by encroaching rhododendron and scrub. It is intolerant of excessive shade. Rhododendron ponticum is an invasive species, which has been threatening much of our native upland habitat over the last few decades. While many people find it an attractive sight, especially when the shrub is in flower, rhododendron has the potential to devastate any habitat it colonises. The plant can spread at a rapid rate and its canopy has the ability to reach areas some considerable distance from the roots. It is also toxic to many grazing animals and insects, so it is difficult to control in any way except by laborious cutting and clearance. As well as producing dense shade, which prevents the germination of anything beneath the plant, rhododendron also grows in association with a particular fungus around its roots. This fungus effectively poisons the ground for years, even after the rhododendron itself has been removed, and any plant attempting to colonise the site will be killed. Except, of course, more rhododendron.Top
Atlantic lejeunea conservation
Atlantic lejeunea is listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plans and included in English Nature's Species Recovery Programme. Plantlife, who are the lead organisation for this liverwort, hope to be able to re-introduce it to suitable former sites during the next few years. As it is also a globally scarce species, information on management and propagation of the liverwort by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, will be made available to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.Top
Information supplied by English Nature.
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
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