Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Taff riverbank mossing

I've made a couple of lunchtime forays along the Taff riverbank in Cardiff over the last week or so, in an attempt to try and build up more complete species lists for the tetrads which the river corridor passes through.

Recently, I've focused on the western bank in ST1480, which is bordered by abandoned meadows and attracts few visitors. I've been pleasantly surprised by the range of species present. The photo below was a particular hotspot, with the ash roots on the left supporting Homalia trichomanoides, Syntrichia latifolia, Brachythecium plumosum and, nicest of all, a small patch of Anomodon viticulosus (the first time I've seen it by a river). The concrete blocks (presumably former bank protection) in the river on the right of the photo held the Schistidium platyphyllum featured in my previous post, as well as some very large Cinclidotus fontinaloides.

Other riverbank species recorded nearby included Plagiomnium rostratum, Platyhypnidium riparioides, Brachythecium rivulare, Pellia endiviifolia, Leskea polycarpa (on flood zone Buddleia and Sycamore bark) and Mnium marginatum. The latter is proving quite common along the Taff between Bute Park and Forest Farm, and seems to occur wherever there are silty margins shaded by trees or, in the present case, stands of Japanese Knotweed.

I've now covered most of the accessible Taff riverbank within Cardiff, so will soon have to turn my attention to the Ely and Rhymney (though these are not so accessible).


  1. Local distribution patterns of riparian plants are often fascinating, with some species which are frequently seen along some rivers apparently missing or rare on others. In my experience, the Neath, Afan and Tawe rivers are quite different from each other in several respects, e.g occurrence and abundance of Cinclidotus, Homalia, Hygroamblystegium spp. and Schistidium spp., as well as flowering plants like Meadow Saxifrage. So detailed surveys like yours, George, are bound to yield interesting and essential results.

  2. The nearest non-tidal river section to me is the Dulais which is characterised by more acidic species such as Hygrohypnum ochraceum and Fontinalis squamosa. It will be fascinating as the picture builds up of our rivers.

  3. Thanks for the comments. The Taff is proving to have a surprisingly base-rich flora in my area, with a good range of species present, despite a general lack of interest among the vascular plants (though I have seen Meadow Saxifrage upstream near Abercynon).

    I'm really looking forward to the Ely...