Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mainly Dandelions

This is what a BSBI Taraxacum (Dandelion) workshop looks like:

There are well over two hundred species of dandelion in the UK and 130 or so have been recorded by Mike Porter, my colleague, or John Richards in Brecknockshire. John was the expert at the workshop I went to in Bangor over the weekend and is shown below explaining the characters of Taraxacum faeroense.

Three days of intensive taraxology haven't made me an expert but I will no longer be walking by every dandelion I see, muttering "Taraxacum agg." and moving on to more readily identifiable species - I hope.

I did learn a lot though and in a little excursion today was able to decide on a section (there are 9 broad sections for the genus) for the dandelions I saw at Henallt Common and even make a stab at a species for a few. But most were not suitable for taking home and pressing - an essential stage in identification for many. Maybe I will see some on Thursday... (The examples at Henallt were few and mostly too far advanced to be the ideal specimen.)

This was the highlight, Taraxacum palustre, Marsh Dandelion or Dant-y-llew’r gors at Newborough Dunes. It has been recorded in Brecknock, but not recently, and makes a good target to look out for as it is fairly easy to identify from the simple leaves and the habitat if favours (as well as other things).

 We saw other plants as well including this New Zealander at Aberffraw:
Cardamine corymbosa, New Zealand Bitter-cress or  Berwr chwerw Seland Newydd which was new to me and is apparently spreading through the country in pavement-type habitats. So to watch out for in Brecon and Hay etc.

And, of course, we saw some great scenery:

Friday, April 18, 2014

Dyrysiog Wood

A good recording day at this BWT reserve. We were disappointed not to find any Early Purple Orchids  (surely we were not TOO early ?) but everything else you might expect was there - with many species in satisfying abundances. There are also some great views of the Nant Bran ("Crow Stream") and sounds of many birds I couldn't identify - but Steph could.

It was the perfect time for Wood Anemones, Anemone nemorosa or Blodyn y gwynt and we particularly noticed that the patches showed a great variation in leaf and flower colour.

Caltha palustris Marsh-marigold Gold y gors

The Nant Bran with Steph finding stuff along the bank in the last picture

A fungus I haven't seen before...

... and the Bluebells were just starting to flower:

Friday, April 11, 2014

Purple saxifrage

Four of us went in search of this at the prime Brecknockshire site yesterday. We all visited both locations featured here, all met each other; but we were never more than three. Hence this log from my iPhone:
(None of us miraculously flew across the reserve crags - the route updates every 10 minutes but I think that leg took a little longer so one or two got missed I assume. Two used the route round the south - a steep climb / descent - but they didn't have my phone with them.)

 JC and TV at the cairn on the way up (after seeing the saxifrage once). Photo by SM.

Anyway - the saxifrage.

This plant is a glaciation survivor that tends to keep to highish altitude and sheltered places where it flowers in the early spring before things get too hot. Here in Brecknockshire is its southern limit for the British Isles I believe. At Craig Cerrig-gleisiad we saw it from 500m up to 600 (pretty much as high as you can go there).

We started by looking at some rocks near the base of one of the many gullies that incise the cirque:

One plant was spotted by SM just at the far left of the rock formation in the middle which descends from right to left.
Saxifraga oppositifolia, Purple saxifrage or Tormaen porffor 
 and the site:

Despite his intrepid search along the formation no more was seen here (but could have been lurking high up) and he did encounter a good patch of Sedum forsterianum. (The less intrepid of the party took an easier route.)

Sedum forsterianum is known as Welsh Stonecrop (Briweg Gymreig) and is a delight in flower later in the year - this from Stanner Rocks in Radnorshire:

We climbed up to the top of the reserve to look down into the ravine near the lower site and managed to spot three more plants from up there. This is where SG joined us. I'll finish with a gallery of pictures...

Saxifraga oppositifolia, Purple saxifrage or Tormaen porffor at about 600m
The top of the gully with P S showing (just) on the rock on the right of the cleft.

SM went down the gully a bit and took this:

and in 2010 he took this picture:

Anemone nemorosa, Wood anemone or Blodyn y gwynt thinking the habitat resembles woodland.
Abundant Saxifraga hypnoides, Mossy Saxifrage or Tormaen llydandroed - will be a great sight later in the year.

Saturday, April 05, 2014


I'm still a little desk-bound with the Brecknockshire Rare Plant Register. (Nearly there...) But I did get out with Hay U3A Lost Farms and Villages group to Partishow on Wednesday. I took a recording card (this is right on the boundary of the Vice County) and did record quite a few species - including  a good variety of ferns etc on old walls at Ty'n y Llwyn Farm.

The church is a popular place for walkers and has a good collection of daffodils - including some that are probably true Narcissus pseudonarcissus - even if planted.

There are also wild garlic, primroses and other gems in the graveyard.

And at St Issue's Well nearby a great display of Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage.

But it's the interior of the church that is famed and draws visitors from a wide area:

More botany next week hopefully !