Sunday, 17 July 2016

Hard as Flint(shire)

Two days mapping calcicolous grasslands in NE Wales gave me a brief opportunity to record in Flintshire, Wales' most bryologically unknown Vice-county.  My calcicolous survey site was just across the boundary in Denbighshire, and it produced a good range of scarcities including Riccia subbifurca (new for VC50), Encalypta vulgaris, Ditrichum flexicaule, Orthothecium intricatum, a non-fruiting limestone Seligeria, and a Tortella that keys to T. densa but is perhaps just a form of T. tortuosa.

This Tortella has an almost epapillose adaxial side of the nerve and scarcely undulate leaves,
but the spiralling leaf arrangement doesn't fit the continental interpretation of Tortella densa
The same thing is found at scattered sites in NW Britain, eg on Rhum.

Two conifer plantations seemed to offer the best chance of new county records for Flintshire, as the county lacked any record of such common species as Marsupella emarginata, Racomitrium heterostichum and Ulota phyllantha.  It still lacks the first two, but I succeeded on the epiphyte front with U. phyllantha at Nercwys Mountain, and then U. phyllantha, Orthotrichum striatum, Metzgeria consanguinea and Pylaisia polyantha (all new for VC51) at Gwernto Plantation.  Nercwys Mountain also produced the first Flintshire records of Lophozia incisa on a path and Sphagnum girgensohnii on an anonymous peaty bank.

This is where Sphagnum girgensohnii grew - thoroughly unremarkable!

Highlight of the trip was rather unexpected.  I collected an abundantly fruiting Bryum from the tennis court at my accommodation (Soughton Hall had a half-price offer; I wouldn't normally stay somewhere so posh!), and microscope checking showed it to be Bryum creberrimum: a Nationally Scarce (if under-recorded) moss that was new for Flintshire and also for me!

Two photos of the endostome of Bryum creberrimum: one showing wide holes in the endostome teeth
and the other showing apendiculate cilia 
Flintshire didn't produce the bonanza of new county records I had hoped.  There's more to be added, but it's going to be hard (as flint).


  1. Nice ... What sort of surface did tennis court have?

  2. Very degraded tarmac, almost like gravel. Tom is unconvinced by the Bryum though, as some of the leaves are long-awned, so it's on its way to the referee (or should that be umpire, given the tennis context?).

    On a more positive note, Tom confirmed the Tortella densa, which has only 1 or 2 other Welsh records.