Wildlife to spot in a winter woodland

Strolling through a woodland in winter can be a revelation - welcome to a world of fungi, ferns and delicate mosses. Use our guide to identify 12 species you might see in a winter woodland. 

travellersjoy_623-edb882b

All illustrations by Felicity Rose Cole

Advertisement

1. Traveller’s joy Clematis vitalba (above)

Huge ropes ascend into branches; feathery plumes on seed-heads. Limestone or chalky soils.

butchersbroom_623-30c6364

2. Butcher’s broom Ruscus aculeatus

Greenish flowers and red berries; ‘leaves’ are modified stems. Mainly in southern and western woods.

mistletoe_623-c2b23e5

3. Mistletoe Viscum album

White berries and oval, evergreen leaves. Mainly in south and west, along wood-edges and in orchards.

commonpolypody_623-dae3266

4. Common polypody Polypodium vulgare

One of three similar species, all with lobed fronds and clusters of orange spores on underside. Widespread.

hart27stonguefern_623-9f6af4f

5. Hart’s tongue fern Phyllitis scolopendrium

Leathery, strap-like fronds, with parallel rows of spores underneath. Mainly west and north; rarer in east.

hardfern_623-ee2e695

6. Hard fern Blechnum spicant

Two frond types: sterile are broad and lobed; spore-bearing are narrow and comb-like. Mainly on acid soils.

coralspotfungus_623-6bb5ff0

7. Coral spot fungus nectria cinnabarina

Bright orange or pink polka-dot pustules. Widespread everywhere on smaller branches and twigs.

kingalfred27scakes_623-13c077d

8. King Alfred’s cakes Daldinia concentrica

Blackish fruiting bodies; when sliced reveals concentric rings. On tree trunks, especially ash and beech.

manyzonedpolypore_623-05c094d

9. Many-zoned polypore Trametes versicolor

Banded brackets with pale edges; fresh brackets often purplish ‘bloom’. Common on rotting logs.

largewhitemoss_623-cbfa3dd

10. Large white-moss Leucobryum glaucum

Forms large tufts of whitish-green leaves, paler when dry. Woods with little ground cover, especially beech.

capillarythreadmoss_623-e8ac7de

11. Capillary thread-moss Bryum capillare

Leaves are oval with hair-like tips; drooping, cylindrical spore capsules. One of our most common mosses.

Rough-stalkedfeather-moss_623-a325c21

12. Rough-stalked feather-moss Brachythecium rutabulum

Advertisement

Forms feathery cushions and mats; egg-shaped leaves. Very common.