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.

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