Friday, September 13, 2013

Balsam pulling and exciting finds

The exciting news first. Brecon Botany Recording Group volunteers have made the first sighting in 29 years of a rare Bellflower near Crickadarn. It is also the first sighting in Brecknockshire for some time.
The Cricakadarn Campanula patula (Spreading Bellflower) 
photographed by Ruth Redmond-Cooper on 12th September 2013

Campanula patula or Spreading Bellflower likes hedgebanks and wood borders and occurs only in a few locations centred on the Welsh borders. It has been declining steadily in Brecknockshire for many decades and has only been seen since 1900 in two relatively small areas: the one where is has just been seen and the area around Llanigon, near Hay. It is a Biennial and hence depends on reseeding to survive. It is thought that regular movements of cattle in the lanes helped spread it in the past. Certainly the places where it has been seen relatively recently tend to be little used byways that may well have been popular cattle droves in the past (such as the path up Digedi valley above Llanigon).

But the good news is that it is worth keeping an eye out for these rarities as I had asked the member of the group who found it to watch out for this early in the year. (Other good news is that, in common with many annuals / biennals, seeds of this species can germinate after very long periods of resting in the soil.)

If you would like to join the Brecon Botany Recording Group please contact me. We have regular meetings but I can also come out to assist with monitoring in your local area or to look at unusual plants you may have found.

The weekly meeting this week was to revisit Llangors Lake - on the popular side this time. We recorded a large number of species and also saw some interesting hybrids such as:

Peppermint, a hybrid of Mentha aquatica and Mentha spicata
and Cirsium x celakovskianum, a hybrid of Creeping and Marsh Thistles
(Thanks for pointing both of these out go to Paul Green, BSBI Welsh Officer.)

The Balsam pulling was to try to control this pest (Himalayan Balsam) in a meadow near Crickadarn (again) that is host to some good patches of Globeflower.
Thanks to Steph for the pictures:

In case you need reminding what Himalayan Balsam, Impatiens glandulifera looks like!

Finally I have a correction  to report. Our find of Tasteless Water-pepper at Llangors a few weeks ago wasn't - it was in fact the nearly-as-exciting Small Water-pepper (which is also tasteless). See the corrected blog at

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