Friday, 19 February 2016

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


  1. My head hurts from all the unfamiliar names :-)

  2. A mouth-watering list of highlights from what must be amongst the top sites in South Wales. There are a few species there I look forward to connecting with in due course.

  3. A truly remarkable area on our doorstep. And so exciting to think there are still unexplored side valleys like the one you describe.