Thursday, 21 April 2016

Lovely! Splachnum

Last December as I stumbled about in low cloud and gale force winds trying to find some dip-wells at Waun Fach in the Black Mountains, I came across several scattered bits of sheep dung sitting on bare peat, which had a few small patches of infertile Splachnum sphaericum.  As I have never seen this species with sporophytes I brought a sample home and left it in the greenhouse over winter (wife not too pleased!) to see if I could grow it on - four months later and I have a turd almost completely covered in moss with lots of nice sporophytes - I am at Waun Fach next week so will take it back home.   This appears to be first (or at least first modern) record for the Black Mountains.  I think this species is still bracketed for Herefordshire and Monmouthshire, but hopefully it might turn up there soon with Waun Fach being only a few kms from the boundaries of both these counties.  

I think the only other places I have seen Splachnum sphaericum in south Wales is at Mynydd Llangatwg (several times, although seems much less frequent there now than it was 15 years ago) and near Ystradfellte.  

Recently I was sorting through some photos of archaeological sites and came across one I took last year of a cairn on the common above Cwm Cadlan (in RCT, but the old V-c 42).  Although situated in a very exposed and dry spot, in the hollow of the cairn is a small patch of Tetraplodon mnioides.  Presumably a bird coughed up a pellet onto the small mat of moss, which holds just enough moisture to allow the Tetraplodon to grow - probably always worth having a search around these bird perching areas on the moors. 


  1. Result! I wish I had your bryocultural skills - everything I try and grow on invariably dries out and turns to dust (yes I do water things, but it's probably my choice of location and substrate).

    A moss I found on a sheep's jawbone at a burial chamber on Mynydd Carnllechart a week or two back, which I initially though was Tetraplodon, unfortunately looked more like young Bryum capillare under the m'scope. There are only a few shoots left, and they're tiny, so I now have it out in the garden on some damp coir by the pond. I doubt my results will be as impressive as Graham's, but I live in hope...

  2. The strangest thing I ever grew on was an odd looking Fossombronia Sam and I found at an old mine in NE Carms.... It quickly died off, but later grew again revealing itself to be Petalophyllum. Not wanting to break the law by collecting some from my plant pot as a Vc voucher, the then Hepatics recorder happily accepted a photograph which I believe has been put in a little packet and deposited in the BBS herbarium.