Saturday, March 28, 2015

Daffodil day

We set out last week to check some of Brecknockshire's known sites for Narcissus pseudonarcissus, the native Daffodil. This is something I haven't done much yet - spending a day on one genus.

Not many yet flowering at Cilmery

Of course it is difficult to say in any particular case whether a population is actually natively growing where it is and the preponderance of churchyards in the known sites can be seen two ways - maybe as sites that preserve the ancient flora of the area or maybe places where people have brought Daffodils in from the local woods in the past. Certainly nowadays garden centres and gardens have become a source for churchyard plantings as we saw only too clearly.
 Getting the close-up

But the populations of Narcissus pseudonarcissus were still there (and we found some new ones to record as well). Some have obvious significant variation with not all plants conforming to the keys and other are much more uniform. Again it is difficult to be sure why this is but certainly some locations seemed to have Daffodils such as N. macrolobus, Pale-flowered Daffodil which is similar to the native species and others had variation between the two.
Pale-flowered Daffodil or Narcissus macrolobus at Llanfilo

We also saw many clumps of clear garden origin, most of which we didn't try to identify but several species of the less-selected types turned up repeatedly such as a double form of N. pseudonarcissus as well as N. x monochromus, Reflexed Daffodil (probably a variety known as "February Gold") and Narcissus hispanicus, Spanish Daffodil.

Llandewi'r Cwm Church with Daffodils

Certainly a day of immersion in Daffodils and the Stace Key led to us having a better feel for the genus and what to look out for. We need more Daffodil spotters in Brecknock as I feel the number of sites with reasonably authentic N. pseudonarcissus is probably under-counted. We found it for instance at the small Ebenezer Chapel near Upper Chapel on the Epynt where I don't think is has been recorded before. It was also confirmed (and abundant including the area around) at Cilmery (the Church of St Cannen, Llanganten).

Daffodils at Ebenezer Chapel

Look out for smallish Daffodils (not the tiny Tete a Tete though) growing more individually (ie less clumped) with a long nearly parallel-sided corona that is darker than the petals (tepals to the purists). The true native plant holds its flower at best slightly above horizontally - and often drooping.
Daffodi, Cenhinen-Bedr wyllt or Narcissus pseudonarcissus at Llandewi'r Cwm Churchyard
and high above a lane very near Brecon.
A rather small remnant (?) population at Llanfilo under the Yew.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

We climbed all over Craig y Rhiwarth and all we got was this *** Celandine

Well not quite - and it is a delightful Celandine:

Lesser Celandine or Llygad Ebrill, Ficaria verna (Was previously known as Ranunculus ficaria)

We were hoping to find Wood Spurge or Llaethlys y coed, Euphorbia amygdaloides which was last seen at this reserve in the 1980s but didn't find any. That doesn't prove it isn't there though and maybe we were a little early (but it is well developed in gardens now). This Brecknock Wildlife Trust Reserve is steep with lots of scree and boulders that are easily dislodged to imperil anyone below, so if you are thinking of having a look then do take care...

It was a lovely day though and we saw a lot else just beginning to grow but only the one Celandine was flowering on the sloes that we came across - there are many on the roadside verges now.

And we saw Whitlowgrass or Llysiau’r-bystwn, Erophila where we parked in Brecon to share cars which may just be Erophila glabrescens, Glabrous Whitlowgrass or Llysiau’r-bystwn llyfn - watch this space.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Green Hellebore

A group of us were exploring a site thought to have once been a monastery near Llangors today. It's also a site for Green Hellebore which grows in four known sites in the county. There may be more as it seems to do well where it does grow. Whether there is any connection with the site history we don't know.
Green Hellebore, Crafanc-yr-arth werdd or Helleborus viridis

Friday, March 06, 2015

Out again

And Cwm Oergwm is a good place to start. (it means cold valley - but conditions were perfect for walking.) There will be a BSBI recording meeting there in August so a few of us set out to get acquainted with the route last week. It's obviously a little early to see much botany but we were able to recognise several species from leaves alone, including Betony right by the side of the Nant Menasgin. We saw plenty of Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage as expected but failed to spot the elusive Alternate-leaved species this time - as Heather said, it was too early for it to be showing its distinctive flowering stems.

There was a good stand of Equisetum telmateia (Great Horsetail) - but completely dead above ground - and a good selection of ferns.

Higher up we got sight of the ridge from Fan y Big curving round to Cwm Cwareli - still covered in snow.

Cwm Oergwm head with Fan y Big on the right

An old Oak pollard - now in open ground after extensive felling of conifers

Cwm Cwareli