Thursday, 9 November 2017

Damp bryo birthday bash

I took the day off work on Tuesday with the intention of a birthday bryo outing to the hills, but the morning rain put me off attempting anything at altitude. So it turned into a woodland day instead - less extreme but thoroughly enjoyable.

I started with a trip to see the Lepidozia cupressina colony at Caerphilly Mountain (found by Peter Sturgess in 2015). It was much easier to find than on our frosty visit in January 2016, though I only found patches of it on three stones (Bazzania trilobata was much more extensive).
After that I nipped up to Nant Gelliwion Woodland SSSI on the edge of Pontypridd, where we only scratched the surface during a fungus group foray in September. The site held records of 18 common bryo species, mostly from past CCW surveys, but had clearly never been properly explored.
I spent a couple of hours exploring the stream and the north-facing slope of the woodland, which produced a few species of local significance including two which I think are new for ST08. The best of these was Metzgeria conjugata, which occupied the downstream side of a stream boulder (outlined in photo below). Also of note was Heterocladium heteropterum var flaccidum.
A few other often sterile species were seen with capsules, including Tetraphis pellucida, Homalia trichomanoides and a large, dark green form of Ctenidium molluscum (photos below).
Many of the decorticated logs in the wood were covered in Nowellia and one had a couple of patches of Riccardia palmata. A more recently fallen tree held some Frullania tamarisci.
I also have some hair-pointless Racomitrium on which to attempt a nerve section - given the streamside location I'm hoping this might be R. affine.
70 taxa were recorded within the wood; another visit to explore the other side of the valley would surely add more. Additional exploration along the lanes and in the conifer plantation elsewhere in ST08P would probably take this tetrad to a very respectable species total.


  1. Belated biryhday wishes George, i too enjoy such an outing as a birthday treat. Well done with boosting ST08P with some nice records. Apologies my querying the Dichodontium and the Ctendium, but they remind me a bit of Rac. aciculare and Hygrohypnum - please do put me right if I'm wrong, its quite possible I am. Hoping to get out more myself now the leaves are off the trees and things are getting wetter!

  2. Thanks Barry - and you don't need to apologise for querying any of my IDs (especially when I'm feeling rusty after a few months away from bryophytes). I'm pretty sure the Ctenidium is correct - the leaf margins were quite strongly toothed from base to apex, and leaves were nerveless. I'll check out the 'Dichodontium' tomorrow - the capsules do look rather Racomitrium like don't they!

  3. Ha ha, yes i get that feeling rusty vibe too at this time of year! Were you tempted to assign the Ctenidium to any of the named varieties?

  4. I'm afraid I had the same thoughts on those two as Barry. Riccardia palmata is a good record for so far east, although the only 2 VC35 sites are in the Wye Valley.

  5. I've checked the 'Dichodontium' specimen now and it is indeed Racomitrium aciculare. Oh well, that's my first howler of the season out of the way! I'll amend the blog post to avoid misleading people.

    The Ctenidium seems to be correct at least - I can't think of anything else with nerveless, strongly dentate, falcate leaves.