Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Plagiochila query from Cwm Clydach, Kidwelly SSSI

Below are some images of two Plagiochila samples collected on Monday, close to the second (new?) Sticta canariensis site in the upper section of the gorge (main site shown above). Growing on a small dark cliff face, were scattered shoots of a tiny Plagiochila that I took to be depauperate spinulosa, as there were some nice patches of the latter only 1m away. However, as it shows a casual resemblance to exigua, I thought pass it by for discussion / to highlight the potential for confusion.

First up, healthy spinulosa specimens (note the long decurrent antical margin):

Now the troublesome specimen, associates including Trichostomum tenuirostre, Heterocladium flaccidum, Lejeunea lamacerina, etc. (note the 'mostly short decurrent antical margin - but probably not as short as it should be, plus the leaves may be a bit too wide and broad-based?):

To get an idea of size, the following image shows a shoot along with Heterocladium flaccidum, Lejeunea lamacerina and the Trichomanes speciosum gametophyte:

Location of the diminutive Plagiochila, it being more well-tucked in than the image might indicate:

Plus the reason for me being at this lovely site, the cyanobacterial morph of Sticta canariensis:

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Blustery and bleak on the Blorenge

I had two targets on the colliery spoil between the Blorenge and Blaenavon and failed on both: Lophocolea bispinosa doesn't seem to have reached the eastern Valleys yet, and Buxbaumia aphylla was always going to be a long-shot :-)  The wind and drizzle didn't help.

Anyway, I made separate DAFOR lists for a heather/crowberry-dominated colliery tip face (21 spp including Lophozia ventricosa silvicola and Cephaloziella hampeana), and a much more open, parched tip top (6 spp), and also found some Lophozia bicrenata on the side of a gully between two tips.

 A short trip north to Cwm Ifor, where a stream has carved a narrow ravine at the junction of the Millstone Grit and Carboniferous Limestone, produced a completely different flora.  Neckera crispa was amazingly abundant and was fruiting copiously, and there were various other calcicoles including Scapania aspera and Jungermannia atrovirens, although I couldn't see any sign of several of the notable species I found in the ravine in 2000/2003.  An outcrop of Millstone Grit above the ravine held abundant Barbilophozia attenuata and there were a few patches of Sphagnum squarrosum in a flush. 

My entire 1.5 hour visit was spent in tetrad SO21K, which is one of the richest in VC35 with >200 species recorded.  I visited many times between 1999 and 2003, including with Graham and with the Border Bryologists, so it was nice to return to old haunts.  Perhaps surprisingly, given previous coverage, I added 11 species to the tetrad total, so the day was useful.

Oxwich Point

Dicranum bonjeanii & Bryum canariense habitat
A belated post from 15th when I found myself in SS58C. The square was already on 73 taxa, but an extra 29 taxa were added including Schistidium elegantulum, Bryum kunzei, Dicranum bonjeanii (photo below), Plasteurhynchium striatulum & Rhynchostegium megapolitanum. Although Bryum canariense (photo below) wasn't new for the square, this is a new location and one where there was more than I can recall seeing in other parts of Gower. This is a species worth being aware of when searching the Vale limestone exposures; the dark green tufts and serrated upper leaf margins being good field characters.

Mynydd Garn-goch

sodden 'dry' heath on spoil,
the brown stuff being Heather kept short by the local model aircraft club
A quick shifty with the dog around MGG this afternoon, produced only routine fare, but a few additional species did take the list for SS69E over the 100 mark. The spoil turf was saturated, everything enveloped in a film of water, making spotting anything small nigh on impossible. The most abundant species making up sward were Calliergonella cuspidata, Campylopus introflexus, Hypnum jutlandicum, Fissidens adianthoides, Pseudoscleropodium purum & Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus. Locally frequent were Bryum dichotomum, Dicranum scoparium, Polytrichastrum formosum, Polytrichum juniperinum, Thuidium tamariscinum with occasional patches of Archidium alternifolium, Bryum argenteum, B. pseudotriquetrum, Campylium protensum Hylocomium splendens.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Tyn y Coed forestry

A rather belated post. Last Sunday morning Karen Wilkinson and I spent a chilly few hours square bashing at Tyn y Coed forestry in monads ST0882 and ST0883 (at the boundary of Cardiff and RCT). This mixed woodland site proved to be quite humid and bryo-rich, though nothing remarkable was recorded. The best records were a small patch of Neckera pumila on hazel and a single cushion of Ptychomitrium polyphyllum (the first time I've seen it in Cardiff, and this updates Roy Perry's 1974 record for ST08). Lejeunea lamacerina and cavifolia were both recorded.

The Ptychomitrium was growing on a sandstone retaining wall in what is probably an old sidings yard. This proved to be the most interesting patch we looked at, with a mix of calcicoles (e.g. Ctenidium molluscum, Bryoerythrophyllum recurvirostrum) and acid lovers (e.g. Diplophyllum albicans) on different parts of the unmortared wall. A Polytrichastrum with branched stems got me excited and looked for all the world like the alpinum I've seen in the uplands, but proved on microscopic examination to be just formosum.
Terrible camera phone photo of sidings yard with retaining wall at rear

As usual I have a query. The small Fissidens in the photos below was growing abundantly on the vertical face of the concrete block on the left-hand side of the above photo.There was only one capsule in my sample (other setae were headless) and this looks slightly inclined (see lower photo) but that might just be due to distortion caused by being dried and rewetted a couple of times. Assuming capsules aren't inclinded, it keys out using Smith as F. limbatus based on the small leaf cells (mostly 6-8 microns wide in my sample). The perichaetial leaves do look rather long and narrow. Thoughts welcome.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Bryum headaches

I'm sure I'm not the first to suffer from this terrible affliction!

I was down at Porthkerry with the family yesterday and after paying homage to the Southbya colony which Gareth found last year (which was very easy to find, on the first bit of dripping cliff after heading west from the beach) I collected some Bryum samples from the limestone cobbles at the back of the beach (general habitat photo below - bryophytes were mostly out of frame to the left of the shot).

These look to be two different species, but I'm confused by both of them. The first (photos below) has long, straight leaves with a longly exurrent nerve (untoothed) and prominent (often pinkish), recurved leaf borders. The basal cells are unicolorous with the rest of the leaf; rhizoids are brown and coarsely papillose and I couldn't find any tubers. I ran it down to couplet 32 in Smith, but at this point the lack of capsules left me stuck.

The second species at least had capsules, but attempting to key it out using Smith led to various unlikely possibilities. This moss also has short shoots but with much smaller leaves (approx. dichotomum size) that are strikingly concave. Leaves are obscurely bordered and with margins recurved usually on one side only. The nerve is excurrent and slightly toothed and the leaf bases are reddish. Again, rhizoids are papillose (but more finely so) and I couldn't find any tubers. Photos below.


Associates included Barbula sardoa, Hypnum resupinatum (I think - unusually small) and Homalothecium lutescens. I hope the photos and text will be helpful - any suggestions appreciated, thanks.

Waterfall Country - a bryological paradise

The Nedd, Mellte, Hepste and Pyrddin valleys are bryologically outstanding, with oceanic species such as Aphanolejeunea microscopica and Plagiochila exigua reaching their southern British limit, and some scarce woodland species in quite remarkable abundance.  Graham had to formulate a view on likely management impacts in an area of the Dyffrynnoedd Nedd a Mellte SAC that had no previous bryophyte records, and I accompanied him on a visit yesterday so that we could get as full a picture of the locality's richness as possible... and boy was it rich!

Jubula and Jamesoniella were in here
The day started with Bartramia ithyphylla and Pohlia wahlenbergii both with sporophytes on outcrops above the track, then a check of some crags in the river's flood zone produced Distichium capillaceum and fruiting Mnium marginatum, with plentiful Grimmia hartmanii on boulders nearby.  A log by the path held the first Cephalozia catenulata of the day, alongside Nowellia, and these were soon followed by the first Jamesoniella autumnalis on a log in a ravine.  A side-valley of the main river held an incredible abundance of both Jamesoniella (on logs and rocks) and Anastrophyllum hellerianum (on humid oak trunks), as well as the 3rd known colony of Jubula hutchinsiae in the SAC.  I suggested that the rocks looked suitable for Tetrodontium brownianum, and sure enough some overhangs in a ravine were bristling with this species.  Highlight of the day came as we made our way back south along the foot of a sunny crag: peardrop-scented Frullania fragilifolia, new for the SAC and the hectad, with Plagichila bifaria at its 2nd SAC locality nearby.  The day was thoroughly worthwhile because we can now work out exactly how to carry out management that will benefit the woodland and its outstanding bryophyte flora.

Photos of most of those highlights follow: only the Anastrophyllum and Plagiochila escaped my camera.

Bartramia ithyphylla
teeny tiny Cephalozia catenulata
a cushion of Distichium capillaceum
Frullania fragilifolia (peardrop scent unfortunately not apparent from this photo)
Grimmia hartmanii with typically falcate leaves
Male Jamesoniella autumnalis on a log
Brackets of Jubula hutchinsiae in a ravine
fruiting Mnium marginatum
fruiting Pohlia wahlenbergii (not something I see fruiting very often at all)
Tetrodontium brownianum growing vertically downwards

Kilvey revisited

A 30 minute search on a barren-looking patch in the north-west corner of the hill SS66609490
produced my first record of Lophozia bicrenata (two lower images). After keying it out I gave it the sniff test and was amazed, despite the diminutive size of my sample, how strong the distinctive leathery smell was. Associates were Gymnocolea inflata (abundant, below: top pic), with occasional Pohlia annotina, Pogonatum aloides, Pohlia nutans, Cephaloziella hampeana, Calluna vulgaris, Festuca ovina and Diplophyllum albicans.

I've no idea what contaminant is inhibiting the growth of vascular plants in this area, but the bryophyte assemblage is very different from the metallophyte community at Pluck Lake, where Weissia controversa var. densifolia and Bryum pallescens grow in abundance.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Oxyrrhynchium schleicheri

This is one of many species which I suspect I would overlook even if I was lucky enough to see it. As far as I know we have no recent Glamorgan records but there are several historic ones, so perhaps as a group we are guilty of passing it over as O. hians (unless it's declined, or is just very rare in the county).

Any tips on where to look and what to look for would be appreciated. I'd imagine the underground stems, mentioned as a key feature in the field guide, would not always be easy to extract in the field.

Information and photos would be welcome, thanks!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Rare fungus on Weissia multicapsularis

There aren't many rarer British mosses than Weissia multicapsularis, as it has fewer than 5 known colonies in the World!  Its first Welsh record came from Dingestow in 1981 (when I was too young to appreciate mosses) and it was a thorn in my side, with 15 failed attempts at relocation, until I found my own colony about 1km from the original site in 2008.  I revisited the colony this afternoon and tall, brownish, short-leaved Weissia are frequent over the same area as I marked in 2008, although I completely failed to find any sporophytes to confirm the ID.  The site seems utterly mundane - a steep bank in improved pasture - but also supports Acaulon muticum, Weissia squarrosa and lots of a small Fissidens that looks likely to be F. crispus.  I suspect it has never been overly fertilised because it is too steep, and a combination of a SW-aspect, grazing and slumping prevent takeover by vascular plants.

Anyway, one patch of Weissia had a little orange fungus growing at its base.  I figured that a fungus growing on Weissia multicapsularis could be pretty rare, so I carefully collected the fungus and 3 stems of the moss for identification.  It looked rather ill-defined compared with most Octospora that I have seen, perhaps because of the membranaceous margin (something mentioned on the excellent Bryoparasitic Pezizales site  Under the microscope it had remarkably lobed asci containing 8 strongly warted spores.  A check on the Pezizales website suggested the only fungus recorded so far from Weissia species is Lamprospora tuberculatella, which has spores that are identical to my specimen.  From what I can see on-line, there are no previous British records, so a very rare moss may support an even rarer (in British terms) fungus.