Friday, 30 January 2015

Ditrichum flexicaule

Following George's photos of Ditrichum gracile from Cefn-onn, here are a couple of pics of D. flexicaule sensu stricto from the tops of limestone boulders at Craig y Cilau.  The lower photo shows the characteristic branches with short, imbricate leaves - D. gracile doesn't have these.  There are problematic intermediates though, and a widespread feeling among British bryologists that this isn't the safest of splits.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Cefn Onn

On Sunday morning I took a quick stomp from Parc Cefn Onn up to the old limestone quarry on the ridgeway north of Cardiff. Virtually the whole walk fell within tetrad ST18S, which must be one of the richest for bryophytes in south-east Glamorgan - a mixture of wooded country park, acid woodland on the lower slopes and limestone woodland and exposed outcrops at the ridgetop. I had a cursory look at the bryos back in 2011, and a few others (including Peter Sturgess, who's now signed up to this blog - hello Peter!)  have done some recording too, but it's never had a thorough survey. There's also some conifer plantation within the same tetrad, on the Caerphilly side of the ridgeway, which hasn't been looked at.

The wooded limestone outcrops below the quarry support some impressive carpets of Anomodon viticulosus (see photo above), plenty of Neckera crispa and Tortella tortuosa, and smaller quantities of Eucladium verticillatum and Cirriphyllum crassinervium.
Neckera crispa
The quarry itself looked fairly horrific on first impression - it was being used for overwintering cattle and you can see the effect this has had in the photo below.

The quarry sides were undamaged, however, and produced a good range of calcicoles including Aloina aloides (fruiting), Ditrichum gracile and Trichostomum crispulum.
Ditrichum gracile
An area of short limestone turf above the quarry produced Brachythecium glareosum, Campylium protensum, Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus and, more surprisingly, a small patch of Hylocomium splendens (presumably in an area that has been leached).

Finally, an area of hilltop limestone outcrops to the west of the quarry (photo below) added Pseudocrossidium revolutum as well as more Ditrichum gracile. I found Dicranum bonjeanii in this area in 2011 but couldn't relocate it on Sunday.

Thanks to Peter Sturgess for suggesting the ID of Ditrichum gracile, which he'd found in the same area. I was put off the scent by the small size of the patches at Cefn Onn (only 2cm tall), but am pretty sure this is what they are.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Loeskeobryum in conifer plantation (again)

Hilary and I spent an afternoon checking one of NPT's Fir Clubmoss sites. Apart from the well known Craig y Llyn populations, they are all in forestry areas which are currently under threat from careless, collateral damage associated with wind farm development, plantation felling and forestry roadworks etc. The Rheola forest population (one plant!) is a bit of an outlier and occurs in a tetrad with over 100 bryophyte records (virtually all in plantation areas), so we didn't expect to add much - and we didn't. However, we did add Racomitrium heterostichum and we admired some of the roadside willows which were covered in epiphytes; some trees with at least 15 species on their trunks just from leisurely counting. From a distance, one of them looked as if it had some nice patches of Eurhynchium striatum (not unusual). Purely by chance I thought it was worth checking in case it was Loeskeobryum brevirostre. It was.

Patches of epiphytic Loeskeobryum brevirostre (e.g. within rectangles delimited by white stars)

 This is our third record for this species in NPT plantations, but the first time we've seen it as an epiphyte and in this particular case well established fairly high up on the trunk. The apparent association of this species with conifer plantations, also mentioned in the Atlas, is interesting.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Squirrel-tail Mosses

After my Golden Plover count at Pendine this morning, I called in to ask permission from the Mayor of Laugharne (Bob Stevens) to visit the Sir John's Hill population of Habrodon perpusillus (Lesser Squirrel-tail Moss). Aided by Sam’s excellent 2005 report this diminutive pleurocarp wasn't too difficult to locate, although I’m not sure I’d have found it without this, as the resemblance to non-fruiting Cryphaea is very disconcerting. Anyway I'm pleased to report that the site appears unchanged since Sam's survey and plants were found on all the known trees I checked.
The Sycamores in foreground and the Ash by the far bend
define the known limits of the colony
Sycamores 8 (multi-stem on the left), 9 & 10 (centre) along the bottom edge
of Sir John's Hill [8 & 9 both support Habrodon]
Habrodon perpusillus
Unfortunately I did not have time to look elsewhere for additional colonies, but one of the Sycamores (tree 7 in the report) had a few tufts of Leucodon sciuroides (Squirrel-tail Moss) growing on a ~5cm dia. horizontal branch, which is a new hectad record. This was also a new species for me, giving me two squirrel-tail ticks in one day! Now I have these both on my radar, a revisit to the Penrice estate has to be worth a shout, plus there's still the mythical Leptodon to refind (if that's where it was!).
Leucodon sciuroides

Friday, 23 January 2015

Species-poor bryophyte habitats #1

You might expect the extensive, near mono-specific stands of Japanese Knotweed in Swansea to be one of the most unpromising bryo habitats...and you’d be right! A 20 minute search yesterday of one such stand, at Gors Avenue Quarry, Cwmbwrla (SS650945) produced just 16 species and failed to challenge this assumption. Not only were there virtually no other vascular plants represented in the field layer, the only niche where bryos were noted was on the very oldest decaying Knotweed root balls and quarry walls, but only where these were raised above ground level on what must be very old plants. For the record the only species noted were Brachythecium rutabulum, Calypogeia arguta, C.fissa, Kindbergia praelonga, Metzgeria furcata, Oxyrrhynchium hians & Pseudotaxiphyllum elegans.
The quarry walls provided a little bit of compensation and additional species noted included Diplophyllum albicans & Nardia scalaris.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Andreaea mutabilis revisited

Thought it might be useful to see pic showing patch of coloured basal cells in A. mutabilis -  - cells are of rather uniform colour in A.rupestris.   Lots of algae on this leaf which probably results from the irrigation the plant was receiving.

Ulota calvescens revisited

I picked out a calvescens calyptra from bottom of packet - pics should give an idea of hairiness.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Mynydd Aberdare

A short stop in the falling snow on the west side of Mynydd Aberdare today added 40-45 species to SO00C & SO00D. The area I looked at was a mixed Larch/Pine plantation with plenty calcicoles along the verges. Didymodon ferrugineus (first two photos) was locally frequent and was found growing alongside both fallax and insulanus, the differences then being quite obvious. Other associates included Calliergonella lindbergii, Ditrichum gracile, Encalypta streptocarpa, etc.
The branches of the Japanese Larches were heavily clothed in epiphytes, including a few patches of Sanionia uncinata (also noted on the track edge at one spot), but the oddest species noted growing on a branch just above head height was Racomitrium ericoides! Has anyone else ever seen this up a tree before? I’ve also retained a reddish-looking Ulotacrispa’ with somewhat intermediate characters.
Sanionia uncinata clumps on lower twigs
Racomitrium ericoides up a tree!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Bryophytes in the snow

I wasn't expecting to see any bryophytes at all when I took the kids up to Storey Arms to play in the snow on Saturday. However, the streams and flushes were free of ice and snow, and a few hastily grabbed tufts of moss provided some nice species I don't see very often (or at all) down my way: Fissidens osmundoides, Campylium stellatum and this rather stunning Scorpidium revolvens, as well as the more familiar Ctenidium molluscum and Philonotis fontanum.

Scorpidium revolvens

These were just above the lay-by on the lower slopes of Fan Fawr (SN976203). Graham - I assume this area has been well covered given its accessibility?

Ffontygari Green Blackwort

the tufa cliff with Southbya is the rather messy looking grey area
photographed 28th September 2011
Retrospective post of the Ffontygari Southbya tophacea site, showing the tufa cliff together with dense and sparse patches of this very attractive species. Hopefully there are other extant colonies, either known by NRW, or awaiting discovery. Perhaps Graham or Sam know if a methodical survey of this stretch of coast has been undertaken?

Sunday, 18 January 2015


I was down at Porthkerry Country Park with the family today, and couldn't resist a quick look at the base of the main coastal cliff (Bull Cliff) - particularly as there are two previous records of Southbya tophacea from Porthkerry. Sadly there seems to be no specific indication of where the Southbya might have been. The Flora of Glamorgan states that the first record was made by Wade in 1950, and was then refound by Roy Perry in 1974, but both records are simply labelled "Porthkerry". Googling produced a bit more information from the Transactions of the Cardiff Nats:

Botanical Notes, 1949-50
"Southbya nigrella (De Not.) Spruce. On calcareous tufa, in sheltered crannies of the cliffs between Aberthaw and Fontigary, 1949, and Porthkerry, 1950, associated with the mosses Weisia verticillata and Barbula tophacea and with the Maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris), A.E.W."

Botanical Notes, 1960 
"Southbya tophacea Spruce. Wet cliffs, Font-y-gary, 1949 and Porthkerry, 1950. Previously recorded as Southbya nigrella, but recently re-identified as S. tophacea and constituting the first record for that species in the British Isles."
Anyway, I couldn't resist a quick scoot along the bottom of Bull Cliff (ST0966). In the event the cliffs were soaking wet and there had been a lot of recent slumping, and I couldn't safely ascend off the beach. The slumped material contained only vascular plants. However, looking up, there did seem to be some tufa mounds high on the cliff (in the rubbish phone photo below the tufa was just below the horizontal band of scrub towards the left of the pic).  But completely inaccessible.
Bull Cliff
It is possible that the records are from the cliffs further west (near the fort) rather than Bull Cliff itself. Does anyone know? And has anyone looked for it since 1974??

Friday, 16 January 2015

A whole (U)lotta fun

Flora Briofitica Iberica Vol V, which was published last summer/autumn, moves us on several steps in Ulota identification.  This was covered by Dr Francisco (Paco) Lara at the BBS Orthotrichum workshop too.  FBI separates U. crispula from U. crispa, but another species Ulota intermedia is about to be described so British bryologists aren't yet being officially told about the crispula split in anticipation of further work.  You have probably all seen U. crispula as it is pretty common in lowland areas: it's the very short-capsuled Ulota with relatively un-furrowed dry capsules whereas U. crispa has deeply furrowed capsules as in the picture below.  The third species U intermedia is more like crispula but is northern and upland - I have a candidate from Brechfa Forest which is being examined in Spain.  So, please try to collect representative Ulota from Glamorgan just in case.  Paco reckoned that U bruchii is so distinct in its narrow mouths that one scarcely needs to think about it!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Meirionydd fun

A daytrip to Meirionydd involved visits to three waterfalls/streams.  The nicest was a couple of km from the famous Coed Ganllwyd - Wales' top oceanic ravine - and although it didn't live up to its neighbour's richness it did hold plenty of lovely bryophytes.  These included Jamesoniella autumnalis (photo) on an old Birch, Mylia taylori (photo) on a rotting log, Lepidozia pearsonii (photo) on a mossy slope, locally frequent Plagiochila punctata, P. spinulosa and P. bifaria, abundant Bazzania trilobata and Dicranodontium denudatum, Hygrobiella laxifolia and Jungermannia paroica by the stream, Blepharostoma trichophyllum on a rockface, and probably best of all a few shoots of Tritomaria exsecta on a rotting log.  The lack of tiny Lejeuneaceae and Sematophyllum demissum was a disappointment, but it's a surprisingly long rocky valley and I only had an hour there.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Lejeunea query

Not having a copy of Paton is a pain when it comes to those liverworts that need checking microscopically. I collected this Lejeunea yesterday from acidic sandstone rocks alongside a wooded hillside stream above Treforest (ST09V), growing near R. aciculare and S. plumosum. Most leaves have only a few oil bodies but some towards the base of the shoot (first photo) have 10+, but I think it must be lamacerina or patens. The lobules are fairly big and the angle between lobule and main lobe looks quite acute, so I wondered if this might be patens?

 Thanks as always for any help.

Spanish moss that really is a moss

With Graham's exciting rediscovery of Ray's Antitrichia curtipendula, it seems a good opportunity to show a couple of wet and dry photos of A. californica, photographed in-situ on a Holm Oak trunk last autumn during a trip to Andújar in southern Spain.
same patch wet

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Andreaea rupestris var. rupestris in RCT

Hilary and I spent an hour in the vicinity of the Ton Pentre overlook (SS939945) near Graig Fach, on a cursory trip to RCT yesterday afternoon. Two under-recorded tetrads (SS99H and SS99M) can be accessed within walking distance here and despite the bitterly cold windy conditions we managed to get numbers up to the albeit  modest totals of 39 and 21 respectively.

Graig Fach

A crippling view of a 'ringtail' hen harrier below the overlook was one of the high points of the day. The other was finding Andreaea rupestris on a number of sandstone slabs in the sheep-grazed moorland.

The leaves of Andreaea rupestris are somewhat falcate-secund with a sheathing base.

Unlike A. rothii, the leaves of A.rupestris don't have a costa and unlike A. mutabilis the basal marginal cells are rectangular. 

Basal cells of leaf

The prominent papillae on the abaxial side of the leaf are a feature of A. rupestris.

Confusion with A. mutabilis (absent from South Wales) is possible, but the leaves of that species lack a sheathing base, have a distinct patch of yellow cells near the base and have basal, marginal cells that are more or less circular (isodiametric). Andreaea alpina is usually a much bigger plant, with leaves that are a different shape, with sinuose basal cells, denticulate basal margins and lack prominent papillae on the abaxial side. 
 A. rupestris is much less common than A. rothii  in South Wales. For example, there were only 3 previous records in the Mapamate database for VC41, all from the vicinity of Craig y Llyn and only one of those (courtesy of  SDSB, BS and GMT from their Craig y Llyn trip last autumn) is recent. However there's a lot more habitat like this to explore in upland Glamorgan, particularly in RCT and Bridgend, so I think we'll be able to put a few more dots on the map in the near future. Among the other mostly unremarkable species we recorded were Racomitrium fasciculare (which is abundant here) and Ptychomitrium polyphyllum - typical species of exposed, acid rock on our moorlands. 

Topping up ST18B

This tetrad, between Pentyrch and Gwaelod y Garth, has one of the highest species counts in VC41 with approximately 145 bryo taxa recorded. This is largely thanks to Coed y Bedw nature reserve, a valley woodland with calcareous springs as well as acidic habitats, and which has been visited by many bryologists in the past, including Tom Blockeel, Joan Appleyard and Roy Perry. ST18B also contains most of Garth Hill, including some sandstone outcrops which add species such as Grimmia trichophylla, Racomitrium heterostichum and Ptilidium ciliare.

Looking at the tetrad list yesterday morning it was obvious it hadn't been 'grotted', with only two Didymodon species on the list and no Syntrichia. Surprsingly there were only two Orthotrichum species recorded too. This seemed a good excuse to take the kids to the playground in Pentyrch yesterday, which proved a bit more interesting than expected as there were some small limestone outcrops just outside the fence.

The visit added 10 species to the tetrad list taking it past the 150 mark; four of these were on a Sweet Chestnut (Orthotrichum lyellii, Hyp. cup. var resupinatum, Syntrichia papillosa and S. laevipila), one on concrete steps (Didymodon luridus) and four on the limestone outctrops (Orthotrichum anomalum, Barbula sardoa, Didymodon sinuosus and Bryum radiculosum). I'd be grateful if someone is able to confirm the Bryum from the photos below; I suspect I've been overlooking it until now. Thanks

The only rhizoidal gemma I could find. It looked right under the microscope.
The straight leaves and excurrent nerve look right for radiculosum.