Friday, 31 October 2014

Glynneath Bryophytes

Photograph of the Jubula site below. The waterfall (just a trickle really) sits in a little amphitheatre and access is easy from the old trackway, but it is quite wet and muddy. Nowelia curvifolia grows on decorticated logs to the left (not in photo). There's a lot of Jubula there and also abundant Pellia endiviifolia and Hyocomium armoricum and other stuff. Also a small amount of Galium odoratum, which is also scarce in NPT. The Jubula grows on and around the black, coal-like rock face.
Jubula hutchinsiae site, Glynneath

The right arm of the amphitheatre is clothed in Blechnum spicant and Luzula sylvatica with thick mats of Diplophyllum albicans

In addition to conspicuous species mentioned in the last post, Lejeunea lamacerina is plentiful on the vertical sandstone embankment along the trackway and Odontoschisma denudataum grows on rotting logs in nearby Cwm Rhy-y-gau. The steep woodland above and below the trackway is a fine example of an ancient Wych Elm-Hazel woodland with local stands of Small-leaved Lime. The River Neath here has an interesting population of the freshwater red alga, Lemanea fluviatilis as well as the usual riparian bryos.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Jubula hutchinsiae in Glamorgan

Between Glyn Neath and Pont Walby, at the head of the Neath Valley, there is a fabulous trackway which was the course of an old railway line. It is has huge vertical embankments plastered in bryophytes and is dissected by little valleys with Tilia cordata and (native) Acer campestre (both rare in NPT). At SN8865/0630 there is a waterfall which has quite a bit of Jubula hutchinsiae on its rock face.
Jubula hutchinsiae, Glyn Neath (28/10/14)

 This beautiful, grey-green liverwort is unmistakable with its spiny leaves and distinctive underside.

Underside of Jubula hutchinsiae showing helmet-shaped ventral lobes

The small, helmet-shaped ventral lobes are reminiscent of Frullania, but the spiny, holly-like leaves are characteristic and give it its common name, Hutchins' Hollywort.
I have never seen this species in Glamorgan before. However, there is a vague record in the Mapmate database which refers to a record from the Blaen Nedd and Mellte SSSI (SN8908), which originated from a CCW database (1975-1996). The same database entry holds records of Jamesoniella autumnalis and Fissidens rivularis. The grid reference suggests a monad in Glamorgan but I think the actual site for these record is Nant-y-celin (near Craig y Dinas) where J. hutchinsiae has been known since the 1970s and which is in Brecs.
Jubula hutchinsiae is a Southern Atlantic species with a very western distribution in Britain. It is rather scarce in South Wales. 

Dichodontium query

Last week I came across a Dichodontium growing on bankside reinforcements (stone and mortar) in the flood zone of the River Taff at Radyr. I assume this is most likely pellucidum but wasn't entirely confident I could rule out flavescens. The leaves are around 4 times as long as wide, which according to Smith is right on the boundary between the limits of each species. No sporophytes unfortunately. Any thoughts? Sorry my photos aren't as good as Charles's!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Fissidens in Pont Rhyd y Fen

Hilary and I saw this small Fissidens yesterday in Pont Rhyd y Fen at the base of an old stone bridge which had a stream running under it. The plants are about 1 cm tall and were growing on the bridge-stone almost on the water line. They were clearly subject to periodic inundation. It's a rather shaded location.

Fissidens at base of stone bridge 

The leaves have a clear, prominent, yellowish border (easy to see in leaves in photo above) and a fairly stout mucro. Photo below shows a low power  microscope view. Again the border looks fairly thick and pigmented and the mucro looks large.

It looks like Fissidens rivularis to me and the habitat is right. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Tetrad totals update

Having recently received Charles and Hilary's 2014 records (all 1892 of them, including 46 records of Colura) thought I'd post an updated map.

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).

Loeskeobryum brevirostre (Short-beaked Wood-moss)

There are very few records of Loeskeobryum brevirostre in Glamorgan. The map below (drawn from the Mapmate datatbase) shows 3 dots in the Vale of Neath, although the top dot is actually on the Brecon side of the Afon Pyrddin. Two other occurrences which (for some reason) are not in the database, and therefore not on the map, are Clydach Vale, RCT (Sam Bosanquet) and Morlais Hill, Merthyr (Roy Perry and Alan Orange). Even then it's just 4 known sites in Glamorgan, which suggests to me that it may be under-recorded, particularly when compared to neighbouring counties.

Mapmate Distribution of Loeskeobryum brevirostre in Glamorgan

Loeskeobryum tends to be associated with the sorts of humid woodlands that are typical of the South Wales valleys, occurring with familiar species like Hylocomium splendens, Rhytidiadelphus loreus, Dicranum majus and Plagiothecium undulatum. Sam describes it as a moss which is irregularly encountered and of unpredictable occurrence in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire and Roy Perry described it as rare in the Flora of Glamorgan, citing only the Morlais Hill records. The most recent records for Glamorgan (Briton Ferry Woods and Maesgwyn) are pretty disjunct and, interestingly, in Larch plantations. Larch plantations (there are still some left!) often support a luxuriant bryophyte ground flora and I have often thought of them as surrogate sessile oak woodlands in South Wales. Perhaps it is not surprising that Loeskeobryum has found a home in them. 
It's easy to pass over Loeskeobryum when it occurs with other robust woodland mosses like Rhytidiadelphus spp. In habit it's somewhere between Eurhynchium striatum and R.loreus.

Loeskeobryum brevirostre, Briton Ferry Woods

However, once you've got it under the lens the pleated leaves with distinctive, long, narrow points are unmistakable.

Loeskeobryum brevirostre, Maesgwyn

  Mature conifer plantations may not seem like the sort of place to look for species like Loeskeobryum brevirostre, but they are surprisingly good habitats for all sorts of bryophytes. 
There must be more of this species in Glamorgan.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Hunt for hornworts!

A month ago I led a walk up Carn Ingli for a group of horticulture students from Kew - and a mighty friendly group they were!  We saw algae, lichens, liverworts and mosses, and to my great relief stumbled across the 3rd Phylum of bryophytes: the Hornworts (Anthocerotophyta).  There are very few Glamorgan records of Hornworts, but they are pretty frequent in damp stubble fields in Monmouthshire, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire and are surely under-recorded in VC41.

Anthoceros punctatus remains unrecorded in Glamorgan, but it's usually the easiest species to find in Pembs: poached, rushy corners of cattle pastures are the classic locus, although it also grows occasionally on clayey ditch banks or even on lane banks.  Phaeoceros laevis has similar habits but is more regular in arable; the only recent Glamorgan record was Barry's from Staffal Haegr, but there are four 20th century ones as well, albeit not confirmed to species level.  Anthoceros agrestis is locally frequent in damp cereal stubbles in central Monmouthshire, along with Phaeoceros carolinianus, and both could be present in clayey arable somewhere in Glamorgan.

All of the hornworts look like mid/dark green thallose liverworts, and could be ignored as Aneura or Pellia if not fertile.  Look out for the 'horns' or for male 'pits' in the thallus.  Here are a couple of photos to give a search image.

Phaeoceros laevis alongside Riccia glauca in a very mossy stubble field.

Sporulating Anthoceros punctatus on a road verge in Co Cork. 
The spores of Anthoceros are black, whereas those of Phaeoceros are orange.

Please go out and hunt for hornworts soon!


How can Llanelli rank as having the second worst shopping centre in Britain when it has shops like this!

Argyll Gardens, Gorseinon

Yesterday for a change I took Alfie for a walk in Argyll Park, which is situated next to the bus station in the middle of Gorseinon and managed to find a total of 16 unremarkable taxa on the Gorsedd Stones. These lumps of Limestone were erected for an Eisteddfod event held in 1980, so have probably been in place no more than 25 years.
Barbula convoluta var. sardoa
Barbula unguiculata
Bryum argenteum
Bryum capillare
Didymodon insulanus
Didymodon sinuosus
Didymodon tophaceus
Grimmia pulvinata
Hypnum cupressiforme var. cupressiforme
Hypnum cupressiforme var. resupinatum
Orthotrichum affine
Orthotrichum anomalum
Orthotrichum diaphanum
Rhynchostegium confertum
Schistidium crassipilum
Tortula muralis
Also present were some plants with very young capsules that could be O. cupulatum, which I'll try to remember to revisit on a future doggy walking excursion.
D. sinuosus - one of the most frequent species on the stones
shady side of a nearby Beech covered in Metzgeria
with lots of Microlejeunea ulicina
Metzgeria consanguinea and Hypnum cupressiforme var. resupinatum new for SS59Z which now has 106 taxa.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Schistidium query

On Friday I collected this Schistidium from a large concrete block in the flood zone of the River Taff, in Cardiff. At first I thought it was rivulare but a few (c. 10%) of the leaves have a short hair point - see photo 3 below - so I presume this must be apocarpum, though I'd appreciate confirmation. The old capsule in the second photo looks a bit shorter than that illustrated for apocarpum in Smith, but I'm guessing this is just due to variation within the species.

I hope one of you is able to confirm anyway!


Craig y Llyn

A few extra photos from our visit to the cliffs above Llayn Fach on the 10th October, a short account of which appears HERE.
Blindia acuta (Sharp-leaved Blindia)
Fissidens osmundoides (Purple-stalked Pocket-moss)
Marsupella emarginata var. emarginata (Notched Rustwort)
Marsupella emarginata var. aquatica (Robust Rustwort)
Nardia compressa (Compressed Flapwort)
Scapania gracilis (Western Earwort)

Friday, 17 October 2014

Fairwood Lake

Yesterday I found Tetraphis pellucida to be locally frequent on Carex paniculata 'trunks' along with a selection of more mundane things. I'm sure there are more interesting species to be found in this bryo-friendly niche.
tussock-sedges along dam edge of Fairwood Lake
Anyway SS59V was the last non-estuarine square in SS59 to be bashed, so all now have exceeded my nominal target of 60 species. The average tetrad count is a rather satisfying 79.8 and whilst I can claim the bulk of the records are mine, several squares received a significant boost from Sam's occasional visits to my home hectad. No doubt there will still be plenty interesting things to find in SN59, but for now it's on to the next hectad ...