Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Conygaer (SS432938)

A small north-facing limestone exposure, moderately shaded by Sycamores, held abundant Rhynchostegium murale, much more than I've seen elsewhere in Gower. There was little of special significance (or maybe there was, but it was frazzled and not noticed), though lifting overhanging grasses revealed some nice patches of Reboulia hemisphaerica.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Mining for moss

Visits to three Ceredigion lead mines last Friday produced several nice things.  I'll start with 3 showy species: Racomitrium elongatum, Tetraplodon mnioides and Hedwigia stellata.  The Racomitrium is pretty frequent in the Cambrian Mountains and its long reflexed hairpoints are a good pointer (before microscope checking).  Tetraplodon is present on most Mid Wales mines, where it grows on scats and bones.  Hedwigia stellata is surprisingly sparsely distributed in Ceredigion, and the two tufts I saw were on tarmac - the first time I've seen it on this substrate.

Prize for smallest and grottiest goes to Ditrichum plumbicola and D. lineare.  The two colonies of D. plumbicola were both "new" - the 15th & 16th sites for this species in Mid Wales - in part because nobody had specifically looked for it on those sites.  The D. lineare was also "new", and was unusual because it's generally found on natural sites in Wales rather than on mines.  Ditrichum plumbicola has blunt-tipped leaves and plane margins, whereas the D. lineare has acute tips and slightly recurved margins.

Prize for rarest may go to D. plumbicola, but with a bit of luck I'll be able to confirm that a colony of very toothy Cephaloziella is C. nicholsonii.  This would be only the 5th Welsh locality for this British endemic.  It was growing at the foot of an old wheel pit wall, and it's interesting to note that the first Ceredigion colony was on a wall on Cwmystwyth mine (found by David Holyoak).

I'll add some microscope photos of the Cephaloziella soon. 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Misty Garth

I made an early dash up Garth Hill this morning, before the rest of the family were awake. My target was the sandstone outcrops on the eastern side of the hill at ST112837. I had a poke around the outcrops slightly further south (ST112836) in August 2014, but wanted to complete the job in case I'd missed anything.

Most of the species were the same as those recorded that day: a lot of Racomitrium heterostichum, quite a bit of Ptilidium ciliare, plus numerous other common acidophiles. I did find a few extra taxa though, including Pohlia nutans (fruiting frequently), Lophozia ventricosa, Calypogeia fissa and Cephaloziella divaricata.
Lophozia ventricosa
The heavens opened while I was on the hilltop and I got back to the car soaked to the skin, so I hope at least a few of these are new to the very well recorded ST18B (167 taxa on Barry's latest map - mostly from several visits by bryological luminaries to the woodland habitats at Coed-y-bedw).

Callicostella at Singleton Botanical Gardens

There was a healthy colony of a Callicostella  sp. (Hookeriaceae) growing on the bottom of a hanging bromeliad and fern display (photo above) in the garden's hothouse today, along with some other less distinct taxa. There are apparently about 100 species of Callicostella, a tropical genus found mainly in Africa and Central and South America, with one species known from Australia. Growing on bromeliads, it's tempting to speculate it might a be a new world species, but it would seem an impossible task to determine which plant or from which source the original imported material came in on and it seems the chances of naming the species are small. The following images provide a record of the specimen I'll keep for reference.
See HERE for illustrations of the genus.

Also growing with the Callicostella was a species presumably from the Dicranaceae, with shoot apices sporting dense clusters of deciduous leaves/plantlets, giving a distinctive appearance.

Plus something from the Plagiotheciaceae I suspect, pretty much identical to the material I once found in a friends orchid pot (see HERE), resembling a diminutive Pseudotaxiphyllum and likewise fruiting freely.

Finally, coming out of the jungle and keep things real, something native ... there were some nice patches of Cirriphyllum crassinervium on rocks bordering the rose beds, plus some rather luxuriant epiphytic growth on mature Cordyline australis trunks, which included Orthotrichum striatum and Syntrichia latifolia.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Odd Orthotrichum

The above tuft was noted in a young Ash plantation near Pont-Henri, where many of the trees looked to be in very poor health. Essentially it is O. pulchellum but with capsules on very short setae, resulting in them being hidden among the shoots. I couldn't make it anything rarer unfortunately, but would be interested to know if this appearance is unusual?
The trees may be sickly, but the extra light seems to have allowed the bryophytes to do well ...
... with abundant Frullania dilatata, 3 Metzgeria spp. & Radula complanata  

Sunday, 15 May 2016


A day trip to the island with friends yesterday provided a few opportunities to look at bryophytes when not taken in by the spectacular display of Bluebells and the captivating Puffins.
Homage was paid to the Porella obtusata, which was still doing well on The Farmhouse walls, plus a close look at the heavily trampled ground in the enclosure proved to be interesting; a withering Fossombronia was frequent on patches of bare ground, the very thick tubers and purple rhizoids hinting at maritima - only unconfirmed material is mentioned for Skomer in Sam's Pembs Bryoflora, so still awaiting confirmation. Other species noted in the very short, broken sward included Barbula convoluta, Erodium maritimumScleropodium touretii, Riccia sorocarpa, Pseudocrossidium hornschuchianum and perhaps most significant a little Lophocolea semiteres, again very withered, but unmistakable, despite this being a new species for me.
Above: Left - Caught in the act!  Right - Fossombronia sp.
Below: Left - Fossombronia sp.  Right - Lophocolea semiteres   
Lophocolea semiteres was noted in much greater abundance on what looked like a large area of formerly disturbed ground west of The Wick and was occasional in damp ground east of North Pond and seems well-established on the island. I noticed a lot of moss growing in the entrances of shearwater burrows. I grabbed a few samples from safe locations but all I found was frequent Dicranella heteromalla and a little Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus. 28 species were noted in total, but an out of season search is obviously essential for 'off path' exploration of this amazing island.
Area west of The Wick with abundant L. semiteres.
Lophocolea semiteres
Lophocolea semiteres

Cruet Collar-moss revisited

As can be seen the capsules of my sample of Splachnum ampullaceum from the Gwrhyd Meadows last month have now developed quite nicely. It's done well in a pot on the kitchen window, along with the Whiteford bonfire Bryum which I really must now attempt to identify...

Friday, 13 May 2016

Racomitrium sudeticum

Racomitrium sudeticum, Mynydd Ton (RCT)

Growing on a sandstone outcrop with R. heterostichum, R. aquaticum and Andrea rothii ssp. falcata on the exposed trail on Mynydd Ton near the boundary between RCT and Bridgend counties (SS9493).

The narrow leaves with short hairpoints and the dull green, compact cushions look quite different from the more lax, hoary (greyish) colonies of R. heterostichum (which have longer hairpoints).

Short hairpoint of R. sudeticum

Lower part of leaf showing elongated, non-papillose, sinuous cells.

My guess is that R. sudeticum is scattered about on the higher, exposed sandstone outcrops of RCT and Bridgend, so we can expect more records in VC41.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Nant Cae-dudwg (part 3)

Apologies for the serialised posts from my outing way back on 2nd May - I've been struggling to find time to go through the many samples collected on the day.

This evening I finished off the samples from the stream itself which included Hygroamblystegium fluviatile (fruiting), Trichostomum tenuirostre and Lejeunea lamacerina. Best by far, though, was  a big tuft of Fissidens which turned out to be taxifolius. Why the excitement? Growing among it were a few strands of this:

Jubula hutchinsiae

I believe this is only the 4th county site, and the first in East Glam. It was well concealed among the Fissidens and shows that this distinctive species can easily be missed in the field (at least by me!) when present in small quantity.

The taxa list from the day is now up to 87 (all in one monad) with a few more still to look at...

Monday, 9 May 2016

Orthotrichum rivulare on River Neath near Resolven

 While checking on the Meadow Saxifrage population on the River Neath near Resolven (not in flower yet) H and I came across a nice population of O. rivulare. Barry saw it further up the valley on a riverbank section near Glyn Neath (almost 2 years ago to the day), so it's not new for NPT, but it is pretty scarce in VC41 (I think this is is only the third record - but I might be wrong). Lots of the colonies were fruiting abundantly so I thought some reference shots would be a good idea.

Silt-encrusted Orthotrichum rivulare in flood zone of River Neath, Resolven (SN827030)

Associates included: Leskea polycarpa, Brachythecium plumosum, Schistidium rivulare, Homalia trichomanoides. 
As well as cell size, a useful microscopic character is the toothed leaf apex, although many leaves didn't show this convincingly.

Leaf apex with a few teeth