Mosses, lichens and fungi

Mosses, liverworts and hornworts are commonly known as bryophytes. They are similar to the first plants that evolved on land over 400 million years ago. There are over 20,000 species of bryophyte on Earth, with over 1,000 found in the UK. Lichens, which typically grow on rocks and trees, are not actually plants but rather they are derived from algae and fungi. Fungi play vital roles in many ecosystems and are crucial to the lifecycles of many plant species on this planet. Most fungi are decomposers, making them essential recyclers. They break down dead tissues and return essential nutrients back into ecosystems.

A number of mosses, lichens, algae and fungi grow in Harmers Wood, encouraged by the variety of different habitats created by the woods and quarries. All these organisms play an important role in the ecosystem of Harmers Wood and we ask that visitors do not touch or damage these fragile plants.

Polytrichum commune also known as common haircap moss (right) is found in the open woodland and inside the quarries. It is a delicate moss that thrives in areas of high humidity.

Trametes versicolor or Turkey Tail fungi (left) with algae growing on each 'cap'. They can dry out and look very leathery during the summer. From medical research a protein-bound polysaccharide called PSK (Krestin) has been developed in Japan for cancer therapy. Whilst Turkey Tail funi can be dried and used as a tea, the Trust asks that no fungi are collected from Harmers Wood and to do so is done at your own risk.


Brachythecium Rutabulum or Rough-stalked Feather-moss (right) is a common moss found across the UK and typically grows on trees and rocks.

Piptoporus betulinus or Birch Bracket (left) is a fungi growing on birch trees and usually signals the demise of the tree. The fungi initially is a white colour but after about a year turns black. This is NOT edible and should not be touched.

Parmelia sulcata known as Hammered Shield Lichen (right) has dish like lobes. The green lobes have a network of sharp ridges and depressions giving the lichen a hammered appearance.

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Harmers' Wood, Hill Road North, Helsby, Cheshire UK