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.

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All illustrations by Felicity Rose Cole

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1

Traveller’s joy, Clematis vitalba (above)

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

2

Butcher’s broom Ruscus aculeatus

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

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3

Mistletoe, Viscum album

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

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Mistletoe branch close up. © Studio Doros/Getty

4

Common polypody, Polypodium vulgare

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

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5

Hart’s tongue fern, Phyllitis scolopendrium

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

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6

Hard fern, Blechnum spicant

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

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7

Coral spot fungus, nectria cinnabarina

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

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8

King Alfred’s cakes, Daldinia concentrica

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

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9

Many-zoned polypore, Trametes versicolor

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

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10

Large white-moss, Leucobryum glaucum

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

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11

Capillary thread-moss, Bryum capillare

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

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12

Rough-stalked feather-moss, Brachythecium rutabulum

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

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