Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Foel Fynyddau

There's a nice 3 mile mossy walk along a forestry track from Pontrhydyfen to the top of Foel Fynyddau, one of the highest points in the lower Afan Valley - this is the forestry track which has the population of Distichium inclinatum, which I've mentioned before. Much of the hill is clothed in pine forests with Scots Pine, Lodgepole Pine and Macedonian Pine, but there's also a fair amount of Sessile Oak woodland there too. Luxuriant banks of bryophytes line the route and there's lots of Scapania irrigua in the hepatic mats along the damp, gritty edges of the track. This is one of the species that scores highly in Sam's Carmarthen forestry track list. On Foel Fynyddau it grows with Jungermannia gracillimaNardia scalaris and occasional Riccardia multifida.

Scapania irrigua, Foel Fynyddau

About 2 miles up the track there are some old log piles at the side of the track, which I presume are pine. Some are plastered in bryophytes with Nowellia curvifolia and Tetraphis pellucida.

 Log pile covered in bryophytes, Foel Fynyddau

On some piles we noted several patches of Riccardia palmata (the conspicuous, darker green patches in the photo above), which is a nice record for the Afan valley. It is found in a similar habitat in Crynant Forest, but it seems to be rather scarce in NPT despite the abundance of suitable habitat. 

Riccardia palmata, Foel Fynyddau

Other things of note along this route include abundant Dryopteris cambrensis and the only population of Tricholoma equestre (Yellow Knight) that I've ever seen in Wales (see recent post on Gower Wildlife blog).


  1. Great selection of species Charles, the Riccardia in particular is very nice although Yellow Knight sounds a really exciting find.
    My recording today involved a visit to the river below Glais bridge, where Schistidium platyphyllum was the main highlight. There was a good supporting cast of riparian species on some Limestone boulders in the river, including Hygrohypnum luridum, Hygroamblystegium fluviatile, Cinclidotus & Orthothrichum cupulatum, helping take SN70A onto 79spp.

  2. Great stuff Barry, particularly since there seem to be few records for the Tawe. We've looked at sections that are in NPT (between Trebanos and Ystalyfera) where there is a small amount of Leskea and a population of Mnium marginatum. Haven't' been able to find Homalia there, although it is frequent along the River Neath. Cinclidotus is interesting. We see it on the Neath, Tawe and Afan and you had it near Glais, but it was regarded as rare in the Flora. I wonder if it has a western bias in the county. Do you see much of it George? The distribution of these riparian species is interesting.

  3. I recently found Cinclidotus growing in a concrete culvert in a small roadside ditch at Llandewi, in west Gower, the main associates being Fontinalis and Leptodictyum, demonstrating its adaptability.

  4. Cinclidotus seems fairly common on the Taff around Cardiff. I haven't done any riparian recording for a while, must get back to it.

  5. I'm slowly getting a feel for riparian bryos, but still find the plasticity of some species perplexing at times and am forever bring home common pleurocarps to be checked. There's a lot of riparian habitat that needs looking at, and in my case previously worked sections probably need revisiting!