Friday, 5 February 2016

Spoil heap bryos

Most of you will probably have noticed the large spoil tip on the skyline as you head north on the A470 from Cardiff towards Pontypridd. Here's a screen grab from Google Street View, though it makes the tip look less prominent than it actually is.

Cilfynydd tip on horizon

I'm generally a fan of coal spoil but even I have to admit that this tip is pretty unsightly - the steep slopes are still largely bare. Anyway, it made for a handy pit stop heading back to Cardiff yesterday - and surprisingly lay within a tetrad with no previous bryophyte records (ST09W).

Up close the spoil was more attractive with a nice bryophyte assemblage. I've not done much recording on coal spoil and the mix of species was unfamiliar, but probably not so to those of you who've sampled this habitat more often. Of the 17 species recorded the most abundant were Dicranum scoparium, Pseudoscleropodium purum, Campylopus introflexus and Racomitrium ericoides. Also frequent were Polytrichum piliferum, P. juniperinum and Hypnum lacunosum (at least, looking chunky and brown enough to be the latter rather than just cupressiforme). There was a small fruiting patch of Barbula convoluta, showing the sheathing perichaetial leaves at the base of the seta which give this species its name.

The flora was generally pretty uniform but a damp hollow produced small patches of Fissidens dubius (checked microscopically) and Bryum pseudotriquetrum.

I'm saving the Nant Cae-dudwg (in the same tetrad, with footpath access) for a stop when I have a little more time!


  1. There are still plenty 0 tetrads up for grabs in the east to enjoy, but other than boundary fragments, they're now history in the west. It's a great excuse to head east!

  2. Indeed! I only said it was surprising that this one was on zero as it has easy access from the A470 and promising habitats with public access.

    Forgot to mention I also had Syntrichia ruralis var. ruraliformis on a gravelly track edge near the tip, along with numerous other grots.