Thursday, 11 February 2016

Pluck Lake

Pine Plantation near Pluck Lake

Reading Sam's post 'On Headless Hill' (great title for a thriller), I was reminded of a small colony of Leucobryum juniperoideum I found a couple of decades ago in the pine plantation near Pluck Lake in the Lower Swansea Valley. I haven't really been there looking for bryophytes in recent years, so H and I had a stroll in the woods around the lake this afternoon. Unfortunately no sign of the Leucobryum, and we didn't see any headline species, but I was impressed by how much the habitat has changed in the last 30 years or so. Pleurocarpous carpets dominate the woodland floor with lots of Hylocomium splendens and Pseudoscleropodium purum, occasional patches of Rhytidiadelphus loreus and Pleurozium schreberi, and a small amount of Plagiothecium undulatum. I was surprised by the amount of  Dicranum majus there. Back in the day when Steve Lavender was the Swansea University LSV Conservator, the woodland floor was rather sterile (but great for fungi in Autumn). What is really pleasing now is the way in which the habitat seems to be taking on the upland flavour of a surrogate Sessile Oak Woodland, much like the Neath Valley (and other) plantations have. Over the decades the pines have grown taller, allowing more light to get to the forest floor, and that has obviously provided better conditions for these bryophytes. I love the way these species colonise and transform conifer plantation habitats.

Dicranum majus growing with Dicranum scoparium, Pluck Lake Pine Plantation

Willows around the lake have a typical epiphyte flora, but we couldn't find any Colura


  1. There was Colura a short distance away, shaded by a railway embankment, or there was when I surveyed the area ca10 years ago. The flip side to the woodland maturing is that it becomes ever further from the metal-toxic Scopelophila habitat that once was abundant in the area. Still, I love the plantation flora, especially as I explored it regularly around Brechfa Forest.

  2. No doubt the Colura is still out there somewhere Sam. It's a shame that the Scopelophila habitat has shrunk. It's a similar story about the Minuartia verna population that grew on metal (including Arsenic) waste further up the road near the old Addis factory - the only site for that species in VC41 as far as I know. There is still some metal waste in places, particularly in the vicinity of White Rock (SS665949).

  3. There's still a strong, though small colony of Minuartia at the Atlantic Close end, though Scopelophila has not been seen for a number of years now, despite several searches. I'm optimistic it will be refound! Sam surveyed the area for metallophytes about 9 years ago and made some very good finds. I'm sure he won't mind me passing on his report to you. Coincidentally I've had some involvement with the cycle path works in the last couple of weeks and can report most species are still present, though scrub encroachment and its associated leaf litter build up, is a concern. From what I've seen today there's been a bit of habitat rejuvenation along the track edges! There's also to be some piecemeal scrub clearance, which should slow down succession.

  4. PS the site is much more important for Metallophyte Lichens and I know you'd enjoy reading Steve Chambers' report. Perhaps Sam can advise if this internal document can be passed on?

  5. Just noticed manus is new for SS69 - nice one