Look out for Moschatel (Adoxa moschatellina)

Mar 31, 2014 by

Look out for Moschatel  (Adoxa moschatellina)

Look out for Moschatel Adoxa moschatellina

A species which can be locally abundant along river banks or in similarly damp and shaded conditions mostly in the valleys of mid and east Cornwall, especially in the Rivers Menalhyl, Camel and Allen, Fowey, East and West Looe, Seaton, Lynher, Tiddy, Inny, Neet, Strat, Valency and Marsland Water catchments. Further west it has been recorded beside the Gannel, but southwest of a line from Newquay to Par it is inexplicably rare or absent, being recorded in only two places, one near Penzance before 1909 and one at Roseworthy near Camborne, last seen in 1983. The site at Roseworthy has been searched several times (including March 2014) without success. There are plenty of suitable habitats in west Cornwall especially in the River Fal catchment, so it could be somewhere here, and may have been undetected due to the early appearance. Traditionally seen as an Ancient Woodland indicator, the present distribution in Cornwall more or less follows the valleys with surviving Ancient Woodland or where these have been modified (where plantations of conifers have replaced the deciduous trees) but the general stream or marginal habitat remains. It is difficult to spot as it has all green flowers, and if it is growing amongst other taller plants can be hidden. It often grows on the areas close to a river in wet woodland or damp banks where a lot of botanical recorders have difficulty in accessing. One feature of it is a musk-like scent from the inflorescence, which I had not experienced until Jen Bousfield brought a plant in a pot to the BCG indoor meeting on 22nd March. The scent was not pleasant being reminiscent of a pond! If you are in a wood and notice a musky scent in the air it may not be a Fox, but Moschatel, so have a look in those damp places.

Adoxa moschatellina Respryn March 2014. P Maund

Adoxa moschatellina Respryn March 2014. P Maund

The map below shows the 1km x 1km (monad) distribution of Moschatel before 2000 (red dots) and after 1999 (open black circles) so as you can see there are several old sites which need finding. Is it declining? The map shows that it has not been recorded in 105 1km x 1km since 1999, though it has been recorded in 55 new 1km x 1km squares, so has it been under-recorded or missed in the past? One explanation may be that some earlier records made for the tetrad (2km x 2km) without a more localised 1km x 1km or better are not shown to the 1km scale on the map. It could also be a species that dies out locally only to reappear a few metres away.

There is also a list of records below sorted by 10km square then tetrad, with records made before 2000 in bold. If there are no recent records for that tetrad, or 1km X 1km square, these are the sites that need finding so we can get a more up to date map of distribution.

If you find a colony please send records to me with the grid reference of the site, name of the site, date and your name. An estimated population size would be helpful. Good luck!

Ian Bennallick

Download Sample of Book (PDF, 190KB)

Download Sample of Book (PDF, 568KB)


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