Sunday, 31 January 2016

Upper Clydach Valley (cont)

In addition to yesterdays fruiting Tetraphis (below left), there were also abundant Nowellia sporophytes, plus some Lepidozia capsules (below right). I brought some of the latter home to check for pearsonii as some patches looked rather leggy and more sprawling than reptans. However, sporophytes are unknown in pearsonii and the habitat was also wrong - too much wishful thinking on my part! Looking at the distribution of pearsonii it looks a reasonably feasible possibility, so worth bearing in mind, especially in humid rocky sites.
Atrichum crispum

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Upper Clydach Valley

Three logs with some healthy patches of Riccardia palmata (above) were the highlight of a one hour search in woodland within the Upper Clydach Valley above Rhyd-y-fro this morning. As with my visit to the adjacent square last week I never actually made it to the river, such was the quality of the feeder stream. Associates of the Riccardia logs included Calypogeia muelleriana, Nowellia curvifolia, Plagiothecium curvifolium, and some lovely fruiting Tetraphis pellucida. Atrichum crispum was noted along a peaty watercourse and there were swathes of Plagiochila porelloides (below) along the roadside bank of St Illtyd’s Walk, all adding to the enjoyment of an outing on a refreshingly pleasant day for a change. SN70D (NPT) finished on 68, with a few samples still to check.
P. porelloides along St Illtyd's Walk
male P. porelloides

Leucodon - maybe we're looking in the wrong place!

George's post ( about Glamorgan's only patch of Leucodon sciuroides illustrates a patch in a relatively classic epiphytic locus, although this is assumed to be a temporary colonist (akin to the Bristol Zoo Antitrichia and various Orthotrichum).  Only half of the 23 Monmouthshire records of this species are from trees (mostly Ash but also Poplar and Elm); others come from Old Red Standstone blocks (Skirrid, Trewyn & Bryn Arw) and sandstone roof tiles (Penhow & Dingestow Churches).  Most intriguing, though, is a colony on an old mossy corrugated asbestos barn roof here at Dingestow Court.

Leucodon is scattered across most of the left hand end of the roof, with abundant 5-10 cm patches across a 3x3m area.  When I first noticed it in 2008 the patch was denser but a bit smaller (I described it as a 1m wide strip down the height of the roof).  The shoots are pretty big, about 2-3 cm long, and might well fit 'var morensis'.  Some shoots hold abundant axillary branchlets. 


Anyway, it's always worth a look on asbestos roofs if you can reach them legally.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Aiming high...

I've got a bee in my bonnet about Knot-hole moss Zygodon forsteri.  The NBN map shows why this mega rarity isn't too ludicrous a prospect in the Forest of Dean, as there are historic records from north Devon and Worcestershire and nobody else would be fool enough to search specifically for it in FoD.  A little bit of the Forest lies in Wales, including Lady Park Wood NNR and Reddings Inclosure, and there are plenty of beech knot-holes (albeit on younger trees than in Epping Forest, the New Forest or Burnham Beeches.  Anyway, I have spent a couple of lunch breaks searching and haven't found any Z. forsteri yet, though my list of Beech epiphytes is growing nicely!

Prize among them was more Pylaisia polyantha - two patches on a massive fallen Beech branch - although some almost ripe Orthotrichum striatum was nice too.  Pylaisia was also present on a willow trunk, the first time I've seen it on that species.

Another lunchtime walk, in the Woodland Trust's Priory Grove today, revealed a base-rich Brownstones outcrop with Neckera crispa, Eucladium, Plagiochila britannica, Orthothecium intricatum and Metzgeria conjugata, as well as Heterocladium flaccidum and Fissidens pusillus on smaller sandstone rocks.  More epiphyte recording revealed Orthotrichum striatumO. stramineum and O. tenellum on willows, but the Orthotrichum and Ulota sporophytes are still slightly too unripe for spotting scarcities to be possible. 

Tricky Syntrichia

A clump of Syntrichia, which was sparsely fruiting, confused me until I pulled it apart and realised there were in fact three different Syntrichia taxa all growing together. The sample was collected from the very mossy roof of Pendine's Sunbeam Diner, whilst balancing on a fence to get access to the lower tiles; not forgetting to grab a few pics while I was there! S. ruralis var. ruraliformis was very obviously different and I assumed the rest, including the fruiting material, was going to be montana (which looked to be the dominant species). But, in fact the capsules belonged to shoots of ruralis var. ruralis, which is said to fruit infrequently. Under the microscope the leaves can't really be confused, but looking at the clump both macroscopically and with a hand lens the picture was puzzling, with a range of apparent intermediate shoots present. Single-species colonies are normally straight forward, but I've not encountered this three-way association previously - at least not knowingly!
Above: Fruiting shoots and leaves taken from fruiting shoots.
Below: Leaves taken from non-fruiting shoots of S. montana [NB. the field of view is the same size for all microscope shots]

Thursday, 28 January 2016


I enjoyed an extended lunch break at Craig y Parc wood, near Creigiau, today, with the intention of topping up ST08V. I did some recording before Christmas in calcareous woodland elsewhere in this tetrad, so the fact that Craig y Parc was mostly dull as ditchwater - dry acidic mixed woodland with low bryophyte diversity - didn't matter too much as many of the species were at least new for the tetrad.

Interest was greater in the eastern part of the wood where there was a small stream which must have had some basic influence, with a nice range of species including a large frilly-edged form of Aneura pinguis, a small patch of Hookeria lucens, Pellia endiviifolia and Cratoneuron filicinum.

I checked numerous conifer stumps with Sematophyllum substrumulosum in mind, but all I found was Hypnum, small amounts of Lophocolea heterophylla and one patch of Riccardia chamaedrys...until one of the last stumps I checked revealed a patch of what I think is the real seems to have all the hallmarks (apart from the brownish leaf base): short red setae, long-beaked capsules, nerveless leaves with enlarged alar cells. Surely this has to be it? Confirmation (or not) would be much appreciated!


Mynydd Ton (RCT)

Under testing weather conditions (poor doesn't come close) and frequently muttering to ourselves 'what are we doing here???', we spent yesterday afternoon  recording in the Sitka plantation on Mynydd Ton. On a fine day you could sit and admire the views of the Rhondda and Ogwr valleys, but yesterday the biting wind brought tears to your eyes. The plantation provided a welcome shelter.
 The target tetrad (SS99M) had only 22 bryophyte records before we set out, but we managed to bring it up to a modest 55 after a couple of hours. Surprisingly, we couldn't find any Colura but the Sitka plantation here is relatively young and a bit isolated from the nearest forests in the Rhondda and Gwynfi valleys which do. Highlights were a local patch of Loeskeobryum brevirostre and stretches of forest tracks with nice mixtures of liverworts that included Aneura pinguis, Leiocolea badensis, Jungermannia spp. and Preissia quadrata. We've not seen P. quadrata in forestry before, so this was a nice addition to the forest track list.
The most abundant Jungermannia species was dark green, pleasnatly scented and decked with abundant perianths.


 I couldn't find any male plants, so I hesitate in saying that these plants are dioecious. However, there aren't any obvious male structures on the leaves (or bracts) below the perianth, so they don't appear to be paroecious - the arrows in the two lower photos point to the upper pair of leaves/bracts below the female bracts. The perianths don't have an obvious beak at their apex like those of J. pumila, but resemble those of J. atrovirens, which is known to colonise forest tracks in Ireland and Wales. Please comment.
There was also a large population of Huperzia selago in the heathy verge along the track and in another RCT plantation to the north-east we recently recorded a massive population of Lycopodium clavatum. It's a joy to see these clubmosses doing so well in these forestry habitats.
This tetrad contains some nice rock outcrops and a bit of urban habitat that we haven't yet looked at, so there's more to be added.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

If you start getting bored of bryophytes...

(or can't go far from home for a while) you can always move on to looking at fungi which parasitise bryophytes!  There is now an outstanding new reference website for these things, including a list of bryophyte hosts ( and lots of info, descriptions and photos.  Octospora grimmiae on Grimmia pulvinata should be worth a look, as should Neotiella ricciae on Riccia spp.  What fun, with lots of spore squashes to enjoy!!

West Glamorgan progress update

After all the recent scarcities, it seems appropriate that some of our commonest species should get a mention. Having now achieved the nominal tetrad coverage for Swansea, I thought a check of the coverage of our most widespread species might help identify where follow-up effort is required. There are 276 tetrads in West Glamorgan and the following table lists the most widespread species in terms of the number of tetrads recorded, along with the same figure as a percentage.
Species League Table (Tetrads)   # %
Kindbergia praelonga 232 84
Calliergonella cuspidata 230 83
Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus 223 81
Brachythecium rutabulum 220 80
Hypnum andoi 212 77
Metzgeria furcata 209 76
Frullania dilatata 200 72
Bryum capillare 199 72
Ceratodon purpureus 192 70
Mnium hornum 189 68
Ulota bruchii 189 68
Atrichum undulatum 180 65
Dicranum scoparium 179 65
Lophocolea bidentata 178 64
Dicranella heteromalla 177 64
Hypnum jutlandicum 177 64
Polytrichastrum formosum 176 64
Pseudoscleropodium purum 175 63
Barbula unguiculata 174 63
Orthotrichum affine 172 62

The following selection of maps highlights the distribution gaps in these widespread species. It's probable most can be taken above 90% with some additional targeted effort, bearing in mind a some of the NPT squares are still to be visited. Charles and Hilary's systematic monad recording is most impressive for species in key NPT habitats, such as forestry and mires, as shown in the second batch of maps below:

A few selected species frequent in forestry and mire habitats:

Monday, 25 January 2016

One good 'don deserves another

I was back in the Ewenny area today and like Sam spent my lunchbreak doing some recording. In the Entodon post I mentioned a limestone crag on Old Castle Down which was crying out for a closer inspection, and this occupied my entire lunchbreak.

The crag is west facing and sits on the shoulder of the down at SS898759. Working south I'd found little of interest by the half way point, but then close together were two smallish patches of Entosthodon pulchellus on soil-capped ledges (posed for this photo on garden soil at home...I took a sample as I wasn't sure of the species in the field). Associates included Trichostomum brachydontium and Fissidens incurvus.

There was nothing else of particular note, but small amounts of Pleurochaete squarrosa, Plagiomnium affine and Eurhynchium striatulum are perhaps worth mentioning.

I've downloaded some more photos from the cheapo work camera - not the best but gives an impression of habitat and microsite. If the latter is blown up there are at least three fruiting plants (red circles) and what looks like quite a few non-fruiting plants among the Trichostomum brachydontium cushions.

Cwm Clydach (SN683066)

Today I spent the last hour of gloom in SN60Y, this being the last Swansea square (excluding coastal and boundary squares) below the nominal 60 species, in fact only 9 prior to today. I still have a good few samples to look at but the square should now be well over the mark, despite not looking at epiphytes, tarmac or concrete. My main effort was focussed on a small feeder stream of the Clydach, which was found to support an fantastic abundance of Odontoschisma denudatum on numerous logs and stumps scattered throughout the woodland (a few examples shown in the photos along with general views of this rather nice site).
On checking the database, despite my choice of stream being totally random, I was amazed to find out this was the precise location where Alan Orange recorded O. denudatum on 15 Mar 1998. The only other species in the system recorded by Alan that day was Solenostoma obovatum, but from a different part of the Clydach Valley. I did collect a Solenostoma sample today, which I've yet to look at. The Clydach Valley has great potential and seems to have received little attention, so another site I shall be looking to revisit for a more critical look...