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LICHENOLOGY IN SUFFOLK C . J . B . HITCH

Lichenologists have been recording in the County of Suffolk for a long time, with the earliest known record by Andrews in 1739 recording Peltigera polydactyla (P. neckeri) from Comard Mere (Boulger, 1919). Subsequently, Paget and Paget (1834), Turner and Borrer (1839), Henslow and Skepper (1860) and Bloomfield (1905) were all responsible for laying the foundations. Their accounts are fascinating for they show the ränge of species present in those days. Anaptychia ciliaris, Pyrenula nitida, Ramalina fraxinea and Usnea florida amongst other species were all described as common on trees or park pales, a favourite location for liehen recording, and they are either extinet now or very rare indeed. There is less information on churchyards, though they were looked at, for Tephromela atra (= Lecanora atra) was described as very common. On the other hand, Verrucaria viridula, in every churchyard looked at nowadays, was quoted as 'Gorleston churchyard and other walls', and Physcia caesia, also very common today, as "Burgh and other churches'. It is likely that with an abundance of other sites, churchyards were not looked at thoroughly. The major lichenologist for the County of early times was Arthur Mayfield, Headmaster of Mendlesham School. Simpson (1986) published a biography of this outstanding naturalist, together with a photograph of him with Stephen Batchelder, another well-known Suffolk naturalist. Mayfield recorded the flora mostly in this area, with some data Coming from the Breckland. He again seemed to ignore churchyards. His records, substantiated by herbarium speeimens housed at the Castle Museum, Norwich, date from 1912-1921, and he published a flora of the County in 1930. Subsequently R. Burn made some collections in the late 1930s, and more recently Rose (1973, 1974) has surveyed parklands and woods in the early 1970s. Peter W. Lambley has also recorded the flora of a number of churchyards from 1972 onwards. W. Watson (1953) produced a Census Catalogue of British Lichens, and it is possible to extract data for Vice Counties 25 and 26, East and West Suffolk respectively. However, some of the speeimens recorded for the County have proved to be incorrectly determined. Porpidia macrocarpa (= Lecidea macrocarpa), Lecidella anomaloides (= Lecidea goniophila) and Lecidea confluens are all incorrectly recorded for Lecidea fuscoatra, a species hardly known in Watson's time. The Catalogue may show that changes have occurred Over 30-40 years, for many species not noted earlier are common or abundant now. Interesting omissions were Rinodina gennarii (= R. subexigua), R. teichophila, Agonimia tristicula (= Polyblastia tristicula), Haematomma ochroleucum var. porphyrium, Phaeophyscia nigricans, Lepraria incana, Sarcopyrenia gibba and Thelidium spp., all very common in churchyards today. In the early 1970s the liehen flora for the County as a whole was 260 modern records, and in addition approximately 50 old records. In the last 10

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years, during which the present survey has been carried out, the total has gone up to 360-400 species, though numbers are fluid as some sterile crusts have not been identified as yet. Thin layer chromatography may provide some answers for many lichens have chemicals in their thalli which on a crude basis react to caustic potash, calcium hypochlorite and p-phenylenediamine (a chemical sometimes used as a photographic developer), giving colour reactions of purple, red, orange or yellow, and are used for identification. Over 360 churchyards, oases of liehen colonisation now, have been looked at critically, particularly in the east of the County, and it is thought that more species will be found when further churchyards on the west are looked at, since heavier rainfall, for example, produces conditions for different species to colonise, such as Caloplaca variabilis and C. isidiigera. Average numbers of species per churchyard, if conditions are favourable, are in the Order of 60-70 taxa. Woodlands recently visited are producing a number of interesting new records too, especially where they are away from atmospheric pollution in the form of flue or exhaust emissions or agricultural pesticides and fertilizers. Lichens are extremely intolerant of any pollutants as they have no mechanism for non-absorbtion. Basis of trees in damp secluded spots are good ecological nitches. Coniocybe furfuracea, very rarely recorded in the County, has turned up again, as has Opegrapha ochrocheila, and Bacidia delicata and B. arnoldiana appear to be more widespread than was at first thought. Pollution levels may be being reduced. However, old herbarium records indicated the presence of species in the County (Lobaria pulmonaria and Psoroma hypnorum) when the air was clean and damper than today, that are only now found in the pure air of the extreme south or west of Britain. It is expected that these data which are being collated in the Computer of the Biological Records Centre at Ipswich will form the basis for a new County flora of lichens in the foreseeable future.

References Bloomfield, E . N. (1905). Lichens of Norfolk and Suffolk. Trans. Norfolk Norwich Nat. Soc., 8, 117. Boulger, G. S. (1919). The cryptogams of Andrew's herbarium. J. Bot., Lond. 57, 337. Henslow, J. S. & Skepper, E . (1860). Flora of Suffolk. Simpkins& Marshall, London. Mayfield, A . (1930). The hepatics, mosses and lichens of Suffolk. J. Ipswich Distr. nat. Hist. Soc., 1, 89. Paget, C. J. & Paget, J. (1834). Sketch of the natural history of Yarmouth and its neighbourhood containing catalogues of the species of animals, birds, reptiles, fish, insects and plants, at present known. Skill & Quay, Yarmouth, pp. 79-83. Rose, F. (1973). Report on survey work on cryptogamic Vegetation in Essex and Suffolk. Report to the Nature Conservancy, 16-19 March 1973.

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Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 25

Rose, F. (1974). Report ort work done in East Anglia in botanical survey. Report to the Nature Conservancy, 16-19 July 1974. Simpson, F. W. (1986). Former Suffolk naturalists. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 22, 62. Turner, D. & Borrer, W. (1839). Specimen ofa Lichenographia Britannica. Yarmouth, for private circulation. [Pp. 1-208 printed by c. 1812 and widely circulated; pp. 209-240, the title page, preface and index printed and labelled 'Supplement' in 1839.] Watson, W. (1953). Census Catalogue of British Lichens. Cambridge University Press, London. Dr. C . J . B . Hitch, The Whin, Wadd Lane, Snape, Saxmundham, Suffolk, IP17 1QY

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Lichenology in Suffolk  

C. J. B. Hitch

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