Friday, 29 May 2015

Putative Dicranoloma menziesii least that what it looks like to me, but I'm happy to be corrected.

This evening I eventually got round to looking at a specimen of another unfamiliar species I collected on the weekend, from the same clump of tree ferns where the Ptychomnion grows in the Wallace Garden at NBGW. Apparently these ferns were imported from New Zealand about 5 years ago. I'll post a few microscope images later, but here's my rather paltry specimen to give the general impression (for scale leaves ~8mm). Cell structure matches the illustrations HERE perfectly...fingers crossed I've not overlooked something native!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Bryum query

Probably a title you all dread!

I was doing fieldwork on the northern slopes of Mynydd y Gaer (SN9486) on Friday, and noted a few bryos as I went along. Most were very commonplace species as would be expected on an acidic bracken slope, but the frequent ant hills were a bit more interesting with occasional Ptilidium ciliare, Campylopus pyriformis and the Bryum shown below.

These small reddish plants were growing mixed with C. pyriformis. After digging around I did find a few rhizoidal tubers, which were the deep red-brown colour suggested by the final photo. The rhizoids themselves were brown and papillose.

Rhizoidal tuber placed on leaf to give indication of size
Cells somewhat incrassate. Leaves bordered with recurved margins.

Given the dry acidic habitat, I wondered if this could be B. bornholmense, but I'm probably way off the mark. Any suggestions welcome, thanks.


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Bygone bryologists hang your heads in shame

This is Rhaeadr Ddu - the most spectacular waterfall on the Afon Gamlan in Coed Ganllwyd NNR, Meirionydd.  A recent survey by Des Callaghan has helped to confirm this woodland as the richest for oceanic bryophytes in Wales and the site with the largest Welsh populations of a large number of species such as Cephalozia catenulata and Sematophyllum demissum.  Des did not refind the Nationally Scarce, Section 42 Paraleptodontium recurvifolium there, and nor has anyone since 1958.  I spent half an hour today searching specifically for it and found none, though it is just possible that an abseil survey might reveal it.  Its loss is a sad tale of thankfully bygone days:

Last month I looked at all of the Welsh specimens of Paraleptodontium in the NMW herbarium, just to confirm that the species really was historically present at 10 or so Welsh sites.  All were correctly identified and all were depressingly, grotesquely large.  Between 1900 and 1958 the colony at Coed Ganllwyd was plundered for private collections and for 'distribution' to other bryologists and herbaria repeatedly, and there are more than 25 specimens from the site.  Many of these are 10x20cm pure patches, suggesting that bygone bryologists grabbed good handfuls of this rare species.  The last collection is from 1958, and its collection (by a now deceased bryologist who I will not name here) horrified Derek Ratcliffe who witnessed the event.  The collector actually said it was the last bit that he could find on the site!

Most of the specimens of Paraleptodontium from Rhaedr Ddu contain bits of Breutelia chrysocoma and/or Sphagnum denticulatum, and the 1958 specimen says "growing through Campylopus setifolius opposite the main waterfall".  As I had seen C. setifolius there on previous visits I knew just where to look, so I had a glimmer of hope that Paraleptodontium could have survived; it hasn't.  The associates are all still there and look spectacular, especially the large patches of the Campylopus.

Despite this loss, Coed Ganllwyd is the most wonderful place in which to see oceanic bryophytes - take a hand lens and the Field Guide (and even better a bryologist who can show you what's there) and admire boulders and rockfaces covered with Sematophyllum, Drepanolejeunea, Harpalejeunea, Colura, Adelanthus, 6 species of Plagiochila, Hypnum callichroum, Dicranodontium denudatum etc. etc.  It is just a 5 minute walk from the National Trust carpark at Dolmelynllyn, Ganllwyd.  Just please don't collect any specimens!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Epiphytic Bryoerythrophyllum

No photos today, just a couple of snippets of minor interest to acknowledge that I have managed some recording effort in the last week or two, helped by the recent rains.

I guess it is not a common phenomenon to find Bryoerythrophyllum recurvirostrum growing as an epiphyte, but there were a few fruiting tufts growing on a horizontal branch of Sambucus nigra alongside Bryum capillare at Parc Trostre today.

A couple of days back I chanced upon a nice colony of Bryum archangelicum at Whiteford, a new species for me (voucher retained).

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Fungus on a moss

Sorting through some old photos this evening, I can across this - taken on my in-laws lawn in Cornwall on New Year's Day 2012. This appears to be the basidiomycete Arrhenia retiruga growing on Calliergonella cuspidata. Has anyone else seen anything similar?

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Mobile Moss (update)

I spotted this as yet unidentified moss growing inside the umbilicus of a live Strawberry Snail Trichia striolata at NBGW yesterday. Probably not that unusual, but thought it a bit quirky all the same! I still have the snail but have not yet sampled the moss within so any suggestions welcome (I guess it's going to be a calcicole). Also I would be interested to hear if anyone else has encountered anything similar.

... finally got round to looking at the snail-moss and it's Rhynchostegiella tenella

Monday, 11 May 2015

‘New’ Southbya tophacea location

Both myself and Hannah have been scouring the cliffs of the Glamorgan coast now for the past two months identifying tufaceous seepgaes and the Maidenhair fern.. all with the aim of finding more Southbya or perhaps something else interesting. Julian Woodman was kind enough to take me to the well known locality at Aberthaw and now hopefully I can report on another ‘new’ locality.

I had a good look in the historical notes for Southbya and it was reported in Porthkerry in 1949-50 (Cardiff Nats) but no accurate grid references were provided.  Georges blog dated 18thJan 2015 (titled Porthkerry) provides more details of his trip along the Bull Cliff. So armed with this knowledge I suspected that the Cold Knap to Rhoose section was a good bet.  

As luck would have it we located the area that was mentioned in the Cardiff Nats…it is west of the Porthkerry park just a short hop along the coast. In total we recorded nearly 30 individual stands of Southbya….far more than I had seen at the Aberthaw section.

In total there were three separate sections all within one larger more general area (I wont put up 10 Fig NGRs just in case the blog goes public - but I will send all to whoever it is that wants them).

  • Location 1 was on a dangerous cliff face, a little scrabble up a grassy bank and two stands 5cm large were identified, part sheltered by some grass. I wouldn’t recommend getting too close to this cliff face.

  • Location 2 was direct on a cliff face near a small fault where recent rock fall suggested I shouldn’t hang around too long. There were 7 stands of Southbya in a 2m area.

  • Location 3 – by far the largest was on a very accessible cliff face. We counted at least 20 stands of Southbya all at head height along a 8m or so section of tufa covered cliff.

Interestingly Locations 2 and 3 were on very exposed cliff face with no other vegetation providing shelter – like at Aberthaw.

I hope this is a good record for Southbya and if someone could tell me where I should register the full details (SEWBREC/ George T/ NRW ???etc etc)  that would be great. 

Porthkerry- Southbya location 1. If you squnit you can see me on the small grassy material to the left of the image 
Porthkerry Southbya Location 2. (apologies for poor photo)

Porthkerry Location 3 (where we recorded 20 individual stands)

Porthkerry Location 3

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Brachythecium query least I presume it's a Brachythecium and I hope I'm not missing something obvious. It was growing in a grave plot at Morriston Cemetery along with Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus and Calliergonella cuspidata. The falcate leaves suggest velutinum, but the remnant setae all appear smooth, plus the nerves lack an apical projection. The budding on the stem also seems odd? Any thoughts welcome.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Fossombronia spores

Not the best photos but I thought it would be nice to share them. I've had no luck in the past with finding fruiting Fossombronia, and therefore hadn't been able to identify any specimens to species level until now. A visit to the in-laws in Cornwall over the bank holiday gave me the chance to check a patch of Fossombronia on their garden path (growing in the cracks between the flag stones). I found this patch at Christmas but there were no sporophytes at the time (I kept some thalli in a sealed pot for a few days, but no luck). Thankfully a few sporophytes were present last weekend and allowed confirmation of F. pusilla. Although not a scarce species, the combination of the ornamented spores and spiralled elaters made for a rather beautiful arrangement. 
Fossombronia pusilla spores and elaters
Fossombronia pusilla spores and elaters

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Riccardia palmata - Brecks

I have been playing around with a dummy Brecks data set and Mapmate - following Charles' Riccardia palmata post I pulled up a tetrad map of its distribution in Brecks.  At moment the data only includes records at 1km or better, but at some point I will try and better localise some of the many 5km records and add those in as well.  The map below therefore doesn't include a few 5km records that are illustrated in Ray's Flora - e.g.  SO14SW, SN93NW . The species seems to be reasonably well distributed in the county.

NBGW query (Pipe Cleaner Moss!)

Found growing on a tree fern today - any suggestions?

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Riccardia palmata (Palmate Germanderwort)

While on a fleeting visit to the Nedd Fechan Valley to check out an itinerary for next week's field course, I stopped to admire the abundance of Nowellia curvifolia on the decorticated logs near Sgwd Ddwli waterfall (Brecs) and noted one small patch of Riccardia palmata growing with it. A few years ago H and I found a large patch on a pile of rotten Sitka wood in Crynant Forest, but the site was disturbed by forestry operations and the colony has since disappeared (even though some of the log pile remains). Perhaps it is sometimes ephemeral (?). I remember Sam telling me that it was surprisingly scarce (or apparently so) in south Wales and Ray Woods comments similarly in The Mosses and Liverworts of Brecknock. It's easy to miss. I don't think Martha Newton recorded it her survey, but it may be well known to others at this site; it is certainly not unexpected in moist valleys like this. For the record, it's in monad SN9009 (tetrad SN90E). Graham, let me know if you want the full GR.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Radnorshire riches

A couple of years ago I stopped for a lunchtime walk on Aberedw Rocks SE of Builth Wells, and found a rock covered with Grimmia laevigata and another with abundant G. decipiens.  Both were new to the site, and they suggested that it could be a very rich area for saxicolous mosses.  Targionia hypophylla has been known there for several decades, and there is an intriguing 20th century record of Bartramia stricta from the site, which was purged at the same time as one from Pembrokeshire [so effectively that I couldn't find out where the Pembs claim was made].

Since then the site has been on my 'to do' list, and a sunny 27th April seemed ideal.  I didn't find B. stricta or any more of either Grimmia, but there were several other good species present, including Marchesinia mackaii (photo), Bartramia ithyphylla, Pohlia cruda, Frullania fragilifolia, Seligeria recurvata, Plagiochila bifaria, P punctata & P spinulosa, Porella arboris-vitae (photo) and Orthothecium intricatum.

The two rarest species were the Nationally Scarce Plagiopus oederianus (photo, with some Bartramia pomiformis for comparison), which is abundant on north-facing rock outcrops, and the Nationally Scarce Encalypta ciliata (photo), which was only present in one small area and was last recorded on the site in 1923.

Biggest surprise was a tuft of Orthotrichum rupestre (photo), which only has 3 previous Radnorshire records and remains unknown further SW in Wales.  Its very hairy calyptra, superficial stomata, upright exostome teeth and half-pliccate capsules were distinctive.

I thought that the highlight of the day was going to be a round-leaved liverwort in a flush, which clearly wasn't Odontoschisma and seemed sure to be my first ever Jamesoniella undulifolia.  To my shock and disappointment, I found under the microscope that it had violet rhizoids, making it Jungermannia hyalina very out of habitat.

Overall it was a wonderful day of mossing, and the site is clearly of SSSI quality for its bryophytes.