This triple-trunked ash near the shore of Loch Arienas, within the Rahoy Hills Scottish Wildlife Trust nature reserve, has a good mix of mosses, liverworts and lichens on its trunk and roots. Around its base the distinction between roots and adjacent rocks is not immediately obvious. Mosses on this tree include Pterogonium gracile, an uncommon species whose leaves stick out when moist but are held very close to the shoots when dry. In that dry state it catches the eye because the shoots look unusually thin and wiry. The first time I found Pterogonium it was in that dry state. I collected a bit and put it in a plastic bag, thinking “this will be really easy to identify because it looks so unusual!”. Later on, back indoors, I tipped the contents of the bag out onto the table. The wiry moss had gone! “It’s vanished!” It took me a while to realise that it was right there in front of me. Its leaves, having become moist in the bag, were now spreading out so it looked much more ordinary.
Details: Coloured pencil; 2011; 30 cm x 21 cm. Unframed: original £200; print £30.
Included in the gallery Trees 1