Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Michaelston-le-pit

Saturday's Glamorgan Botany Group trip to Michaelston-le-pit in the eastern Vale provided a good opportunity to have a first look at this woefully under-recorded area. The two tetrads visited, ST17L and G, had only 4 bryo species recorded between them according to Barry's latest map, despite supporting some lovely woodland with botanical delights such as Italian Lords and Ladies (ssp. neglectum), Bird's-nest Orchid, Greater Butterfly Orchid and Herb Paris.

The bryophytes were parched and there were plenty of other botanical and entomological distractions, so my survey was far from thorough, but a few nice species were recorded nonetheless. The rocky limestone woodland held abundant Cirriphyllum crassinervium (including some with old sporophytes), Porella platyphylla, at least one patch of Mnium stellare at the base of a limestone outcrop and Isothecium alopecuroides at the base of an Ash trunk.
Rocky limestone woodland
Cirriphyllum crassinervium (with old sporophytes)
The best find in the valley woodland was a large patch of Fissidens exilis on a soil bank. There seem to be very few recent Glamorgan records of this tiny pocket moss.
Valley woodland
Fissidens exilis (fruiting)
Fissidens exilis - whole plant, showing unbordered leaves
The area certainly warrants a more thorough look in more favourable conditions.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Lejeunea patens (Pearl Pouncewort)


Lejeunea patens is uncommon in VC41. As far as I can tell, the most recent record was made by Sam and Graham (2010) for Sgwd Gwladys in the Pyrddin Valley, where it grows as an epiphyte on Oak. The only other records (1960s) are for Craig y Llyn, where it grows on rock. So it was nice to find these plants growing as epiphytes on willow in the conifer plantation above Pentreclwydau (between Resolven and Glyn Neath).
Lejeunea patens has a distinctive, large lobule that makes a sharp, acute angle with the leaf, which differentiates it from the much more common L. lamacerina (the most common Lejeunea in NPT).


Lejeunea cavifolia has smaller lobules, but the 2 species are best distinguished by their cellular oil bodies. While cavifolia usually has a large number (25+) of small oil bodies, patens has few (up to 8) and they are larger.


The colonies have a distinct pale lustre in certain light, so the common name is rather apt.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Commonest bryophyte species

Julita Klusa has just put a link to her list of Latvia's top 20 commonest bryophytes on Twitter.  It is fascinatingly different to the top 20 in south Wales!

Rank Pembrokeshire (SW Wales) Latvia UK notes
1 Kindbergia praelonga Hypnum cupressiforme Abundant (No. 2 in Pembrokeshire)
2 Hypnum cupressiforme Leucodon sciuroides Uncommon and very local
3 Brachythecium rutabulum Hylocomium splendens Locally abundant but habitat specific
4 Frullania dilatata Plagiomnium undulatum Locally abundant but habitat specific
5 Metzgeria furcata Pleurozium schreberi Locally abundant but habitat specific
6 Lophocolea bidentata Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus Locally abundant but habitat specific
7 Isothecium myosuroides Dicranum scoparium Locally abundant but habitat specific
8 Bryum dichotomum Climacium dendroides Uncommon and local
9 Mnium hornum Orthotrichum speciosum Rare and eastern, not in Wales
10 Tortula muralis Radula complanata Increasing and locally abundant
11 Bryum capillare Atrichum undulatum Abundant (No. 12 in Pembrokeshire)
12 Atrichum undulatum Nowellia curvifolia Locally abundant but habitat specific
13 Ulota phyllantha Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus Locally abundant but habitat specific
14 Dicranella heteromalla Eurhynchium angustirete Not British
15 Bryum argenteum Homalia trichomanoides Locally abundant but habitat specific
16 Calliergonella cuspidata Ptilium crista-castrensis Uncommon and north-eastern
17 Fissidens bryoides Plagiochila asplenioides Locally abundant but habitat specific
18 Thuidium tamariscinum Syntrichia ruralis Locally abundant but habitat specific
19 Didymodon insulanus Neckera pennata Extinct in Britain, one historic record
20 Ulota bruchii Plagiomnium cuspidatum Uncommon and very local

This has got me thinking again what a pity it is that the South Wales Bryophyte Blog is only visible to 'members' and I wonder whether we could make it more visible but with commenting and blogging limited to 'members'.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Pseudotaxiphyllum fruiting?

Another specimen collected from Cefn Mably last weekend was this possible Pseudotaxiphyllum elegans growing on a log. Nothing at all remarkable about that, but there were numerous sporophytes present. Capsules seem to be rarely reported in this species, with two records of fruiting specimens mentioned in the Carms flora and none in the Pembs flora.


There were some deciduous branchlets present and the leaf bases are not decurrent, so I think it must be P. elegans and not a Plagiothecium species - but if anyone disagrees please let me know.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Weedy Frillwort at Nat. Bot. Garden of Wales

A Fossombronia fruiting in the car park today keyed out as incurva, a new species for me. The habitat isn't quite the norm for this species so I hope I've got it right, but the spore size plus the ornamentation, with some in clusters of 4, are all right.
spores in clusters of 4
small tick marks are 2.5┬Ám

Hygrohypnum query

I found this tiny sample among a collection from a stony forestry track margin at Cefn Mably Wood, NE Cardiff, last weekend.

The curved, concave leaves suggest Hygrohypnum, and the inflated alar cells also seem to fit with it being a member of this genus.

The habitat was dry and probably calcareous (Dicranella varia was an associate), suggesting H. luridum as the most likely species. However, there is no trace of a nerve, which I think is always a feature of this species. The other Hygrohypnum seem unlikely given the habitat, so perhaps I'm barking up the wrong tree and it's not Hygrohypnum at all. Any suggestions welcome, thanks.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Darren Serth

In what seemed like drought conditions during a pleasant walk up towards the Upper Lliw Resr, I came across a nice little patch of Breutelia chrysocoma near the path as it passes alongside the crags of Darren Serth (SN655052). I was surprised to discover this is only the 3rd Glam site and at 150m asl this seems quite low so far south. The site is definitely work another look in better conditions. Also noted were Campylopus atrovirens and Bartramia pomiformis.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Exciting mosses in the Black Mountains

I was surveying Silurian moth habitat on Darren Lwyd today, so it would have seemed rude not to pay my respects to the only known population of Antitrichia curtipendula in south Wales. The crag was looking very different today compared to when Graham visited in January, with all bryophytes looking parched after the recent dry weather. There was a great range of species present on the crag and it took me a while to locate the Antitrichia, but it was pretty obvious once I'd spotted it.


The grapnel-hooked leaf tips were just about discernible with my 10x hand lens. The Field Guide mentions Rhytidiadelphus loreus as a similar species, but I couldn't really see any similarity between the two. Among the many other species on the crag were Pressia quadrata, Frullania tamarisci and Neckera crispa. There was also a female Ring Ouzel nearby.

Later in the day, I investigated some potential Welsh Clearwing birches on the eastern side of Bal Mawr. On the descent I noticed four patches of Leucodon sciuroides on a pollard Ash at SO268297. The Atlas shows several black dots (i.e. recent records) for the Black Mountains, so perhaps this is not such an exciting find here?
Leucodon host tree (moss on other side!)

Around four Leucodon patches on this side of the tree

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Distichium inclinatum

Tried a bit of casual recording this weekend and took the opportunity to check on the D. inclinatum population on Baglan Dunes.


Distichium inclinatum colonies on Baglan Dunes


Plants with characteristic distichous leaf arrangement

I'm happy to report that this is a large, healthy population with hundreds of colonies. The habitat is entirely artificial, consisting of a large bed of limestone gravel. The other main colonist is Encalypta streptocarpa.


Limestone gravel bed habitat, Baglan Dunes (SS72589195)

D. inclinata has declined in, or disappeared from several coastal sites in Britain (including South Wales), so man made habitats like these, which are very easy to create, could be of great importance for this species. The site is easy to get to and you can't miss the plants. It's probably one of the biggest populations in South Wales. There is a similar, but much smaller population on limestone gravel in an open mosaic habitat on Baglan Energy Park.

Pyriform ditch

I spent part of Thursday's lunch break looking for bryos in a ditch by the entrance track to Median Farm.  The most obvious moss there was Physcomitrium pyriforme, fruiting abundantly.  Alongside it was a narrow-leaved Dicranoid moss with yellowish setae that looked wrong for Dicranella heteromalla but I couldn't work it out.  Eventually I found a single unripe pear-shaped capsule and noticed that the lower parts of the shoots had red rhizoids and gemmae.  It was Leptobryum pyriforme: an uncommon and totally unpredictable moss in S Wales.  Pohlia camptotrachela and Fossombronia wondraczekii were also in there, and a Sycamore sported some Orthotrichum stramineum and O lyellii.


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Jungermannia re-examined

I've now rechecked the Jungermannia from Merthyr Common which I posted a query about in an earlier blog (see here). I'm extremely glad that Sam flagged up that my specimen might be J. sphaerocarpa or J. obovata rather than J. pumila. As it turns out I made a complete howler and both specimens, fruiting and non-fruting, appear to be J. sphaerocarpa. Somehow I'd missed the fact that the perianths on the fruiting specimen were strongly winged. The non-fruiting specimen is identical vegetatively to the fruiting specimen (both have round leaves with a narrow insertion, colourless rhizoids and are non aromatic).


Jungermannia sphaerocarpa - winged perianths

The fruiting specimen was from a shale cliff just above the stream (SO076098), with associates including Gymnostomum aeruginosum, Hyocomium armoricum, Bryum pseudotriquetrum, Amphidium mougeotii and Aneura pinguis, i.e. indicating some base enrichment.
J. sphaerocarpa habitat - wet shale bank above stream
The non fruiting specimen was from a wet rockface high above the stream (SO077098) with associates including Preissia quadrata, Palustriella commutata and A. mougeotii, again indicating base enrichment.

As far as I know there is just one confirmed previous VC41 record, made by Sam at Resolven in 2002. Barry's database also lists two records made by Albert Trow in 1898 (these are not listed in Flora of Glamorgan - not sure if they're reliable?).

Monday, 6 April 2015

Pendine MOD

I spent a full day on the Pendine dunes today, thanks to an Unaccompanied Pass organised for me.  The primary aim was to survey as many track edges and other areas for Petalophyllum as possible to inform future works by the MOD: something I started in ad hoc accompanied sessions on 4+ days over the last 5 years, but always struggled with because of a combination of a) some ranges always being off limits during the week and b) the difficulty of surveying when accompanied by somebody looking totally bored.

My target species was extremely elusive: it has gone from the far eastern Range where David Holyoak found it in 2002 and from most of the C9 Test Track, and was absent from various suitable-looking patches elsewhere.  The easternmost site has now developed really nice calcareous vegetation, with abundant Pleurochaete (new to Carms), locally frequent Didymodon acutus (2nd vc colony), frequent Encalypta streptocarpa & Ditrichum gracile etc, but liverworts were absent and I assume succession has knocked out Petalwort in the last 13 years.  The next patch I checked had been touted by David Holyoak as ideal habitat in 2002, but it still held no Petalwort, although two tiny patches of Abietinella abietina (3km E of the other extant Carms colony) were pleasing.  I'm sure the vegetation has developed a lot, as David would never have missed the great abundance of Pleurochaete at the first site, nor I suspect the Abietinella, Didymodon acutus here and at C9 etc.

I finally found Petalophyllum along the C9 track, but in far smaller quantity than in 2002, again because of succession: in this case blown sand burying the area alongside the track that previously held the liverwort.  The only remaining patches were a) on the sandy edges of a concrete pad (crap iPod photo below, as I didn't take a camera) and b) on the edge of the road along the test track.


Wall to wall sun, 15+ Wheatear, 3+ Willow Warbler and a flyover Tree Pipit were bonuses, as were 2 Swallow over St Clears on my way home.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

More Entosthodon

 I was in Mewslade Valley yesterday and noted a 50cm x 20cm patch of E. fascicularis with over 400 densely packed capsules (see photos above - patch on half-covered rock in foreground). I've looked at a few leaves and most have 2 or 3 cells between the costa and the leaf tip, so clearly not of the mouretii type.

I also had a look at the adjacent retaining wall (photos below) and discovered a new colony of E. pulchellus, with numerous small patches scattered along a 100m section of the wall. I counted over 200 capsules, but there were hundreds of non-fruiting plants too. This is possibly the most extensive colony I've personally come across.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

One of Britain's least convincing mosses

In 2012 I published a note in Journal of Bryology reporting Entosthodon mouretii as new for Britain, based on 7 records from the southern half of the country.  I initially tried to reduce mouretii to variety status, but one of the journal referees insisted that I could not do that without studying the Type (in Paris), many southern European specimens etc.  I wanted to reduce it to variety status because so many of the British specimens were markedly intermediate, with no obvious discontinuity in the key character states of costa length, leaf acuminateness, and marginal tooth sharpness.  The 7 British records had convincingly excurrent costae, but others had the costa ending 1-5 cells below the apex.

Today I found a substantial fruiting population of E. fascicularis on a roadside bank in Cross Hands Industrial Estate.  Most of its leaves had very long costae, ranging from excurrent by 1 cell to finishing 2 cells below the apex.  It isn't quite extreme enough to be E. mouretii, but it certainly isn't classic short-nerved E. fascicularis.  I am ever more unconvinced at the validity of this taxon as a species, but don't have the time or inclination to shoot it down globally.



Herzog's Pocket-moss

A belated post from 28th March of Fissidens crispus (=limbatus) which I collected from soil encrusted rocks below the quarry face at Wern-halog, just east of Llanrhidian at SS50809349, found growing directly alongside F. viridulus and Oxyrrhynchium pumilum. The quarry exposure is part of the Millstone Grit Group (which I've always understood to be principally acid), but the plant assemblage shows there is some basic influence. You can get an indication of the protuberant leaf cells in the image below, but this was much clearer in binocular vision; this along with the small cell size making the id straight forward using Smith.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Ulota calvescens on rock

I found a single tuft of Ulota calvescens on a capstone of a roadside wall south of Cwmgors (i.e. the Nant-y-Gaseg bridge parapet immediately s.w. of the Abernant Tip turning SN70310858) today, which seemed a bit odd. Sure enough, when I checked I could find no reference to it growing on rock. I also found two tufts on an Oak trunk in Llewelyn Park, Swansea a week or so ago, so at least 4 Glamorgan sites now.