Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Assault on the Red Castle

Four bryologists (and budding lichenologists) spent a day looking at the epiphytes of Castell Coch Woods SSSI - I was joined by Karen Wilkinson, Nick Sharp and Peter Sturgess.  Highlights were Neckera pumila on at least 10 trees and Pylaisia polyantha on two trees.  Of interest, the Neckera was plentiful in the canopy of a huge fallen Beech, and I suspect it's much commoner in woodland canopies than we realise. One of the two Pylaisia patches was in the same Beech canopy, along with the day's only Orthotrichum striatum.  Other epiphytes included O. stramineum, lyellii, tenellum and pulchellum, Cololejeunea minutissima, Microlejeunea ulicina, Ulota crispa sensu stricto, U. phyllantha and Zygodon conoideus (there was a distinctly western feel all told).
Lichen highlights were Leptogium teretiusculum on two trees and Parmelina pastillifera & Punctelia borreri on one, although I have several small black dots to dissect.
Damp sunny rocks at the foot of the castle held Didymodon umbrosus, Gymnostomum viridulum, Fissidens gracilifolius and Tortula muralis var aestiva, whilst shady rocks on the other side supported Dialytrichia mucronata.
Further up into the SSSI, the natural limestone outcrops were festooned with Anomodon viticulosus, Neckera crispa, locally frequent Eurhynchium striatulum (especially on blocks below the outcrops) and some classic Schistidium elegantulum; Eucladium verticillatum indicated localised seepages.
Our final stop was a tufa spring, which sported fruiting Palustriella commutata and Cranoneuron filicinum, and may well represent the Annex 1 habitat Petrifying Springs Gareth, have you been there?
This was already a well-recorded tetrad, with 140 recorded bryophyte species, so I wonder how many we've added...


  1. You've listed 16 additions to the square, plus I'm sure you saw other obvious omissions such as U.bruchii, O. anomalum, diaphanum, etc. So the square's probably now 160+ and a nice companion for ST18B

  2. We didn't see any of those (!), but I'm sure there are others on the list Karen made.

  3. That's a nice account Sam, just a shame I couldn't join you. As I mentioned before I've done little in these well recorded tetrads north of Cardiff, but as Barry points out there are still some obvious omissions so I should probably try and top up some of them.

    I see N. pumila fairly frequently around Cardiff.

  4. N.pumila was not one of the additions, but several commoner epiphytes are missing, so worth checking out suitable trees and shrubs if you find yourself in that square with a little bit of spare time.

  5. We also had affine, laevipila, Fru dil, Metz furc and vio, Cryphaea, Radula etc so epiphytes are more or less done.

    Neckera pumila was X rare in 35 when I was recording in early 2000s but may not be now.

  6. Hi Sam,
    No I havent been there, send me the NGR and ill see if I can grab a water chemistry sample to add to our growing database. Funnily enough I am currently out with Jon Graham in Gloucestershire surveying the Petrifying Springs...some spectacular sites, many are undesignated and unknown !

  7. Gareth there are a few tufa springs in this SAC, this one and the further north into Cwm Nofydd. Would be great if you had the time to have look at them. I ll dig out grid refs for the others