Thursday, 26 February 2015

Sphagnum quinquefarium (Five-ranked Bog-moss)

Sphagnum quinquefarium in Mellte Valley (Brecs)

A fascinating Sphagnum that grows in Sessile Oak woodland with species like Dicranum majus, Plagiothecium undulatum and Rhytidiadelphus loreus. It likes well drained sites, so the steep woodland in the Mellte Valley is ideal and a good place to see it is on the eastern side of the river near the old gunpowder works.There's lots of S. fimbriatum there too, but side by side the differences between these two Acutifolia Sphagnums are striking. People with 'normal' colour vision will be able to see the raspberry-pink tints in S. quinquefarium. Also the fascicle structure with 3 spreading branches is more or less unique for British Acutifolia. Up close, the straight, angular (5-ranked) structure of the branches in the vicinity of the capitulum, is obvious.

Capitula and branches of Sphagnum quinquefarium (Mellte Valley)

I think I'm right in saying that the only (well) known population of S. quinquefarium in Glamorgan is in the steep oak woodland on the Glamorgan side of the River Pyrddin, near Scwd Gwladys. There must be other suitable sites elsewhere in the county, so it's worth keeping an eye open for it.


  1. I keep looking out for this species, but to date the only place I've seen it in the county is the site you showed me below Sgwd Gwladus. As you say, it must be in some of the other valleys in the county. PS. There are no raspberry tones visible on your lovely image, so I guess not all plants display this feature.

    1. Subtle raspberry tones noted by H in a few plants. Apparently, in some populations the capitula can be quite red, almost like capillifolium.

  2. Pretty sure I have seen it on the Glam side of the Sychryd just as you move off the limestone into the oak woodland on the grits - I might be out there soon, so will make a list of what I see.