Friday, March 29, 2013

Cornish Moneywort

28th March 2013
Paul Green was going to check the one Brecon Record for this (Sibthorpia europaea) so I joined him for the hunt. We both weren't expecting so much snow on the southern slopes of Mynydd Llangatwg near Brynmawr so at first the quest seemed doomed to fail.

But Paul's reputation for finding plants didn't let us down and he soon found a few leaves near the previously recorded site nestling under Juncus.

They were few and far between though here where a path crossed the Nant yr Hafod stream (although we had to admit there could be some under the quite large drifts of snow). 

Paul at about the third population found. 

We decided to follow the stream back down to the cars to see whether the plant had spread along it and this led us to areas of quite great abundance. 

Both of us were puzzled why this plant should occur in Breconshire on only this stream, in fact we were talking about this as we laboriously climbed over close parallel fences that the map showed crossing the moorland in an unusual way for common land fences. Paul had also told me earlier he met a man asking the way to the gasworks...

It turns out the fences mark the path of a gas pipeline and I passed the gasworks later returning round the mountain on the old tramway (now a road !) which is at the end of the pipeline. Could it be that pipeline worker's feet / tyres explain the Sibthorpia in this location ? 

Or is this an under-recorded plant for Brecon that also grows along similar streams ? (Or is the geology underylying this stream special ?)

By the end of the population - not far from the cars - I was spotting Sibthorpia like a pro...

Update after better "research" 1st April 20132

It can't be the gas pipeline that is responsible for Sibthorpia getting here - this was constructed between 2001 and 2004 (thanks Google Earth archive imagery !). The original record at this site was in 2000 . However there was a reservoir on the upper waters of the Nant yr Hafod constructed in the 1970s and now empty that might account for the plant being translocated by workers / their vehicles and of course there has been much construction work (tramroads etc) on the mountain since Victorian times.

No comments: