Sunday, April 24, 2016

Charophytes at Kenfig

Charophytes are a bit of a BSBI anomaly as the society is normally thought of as being "about" vascular plants. But Charophytes look at first glance like vascular plants and are the nearest thing there is to a vascular plant amongst the Algae. Also according to Nick Stewart, the expert who led the workshop, they are "a bit big for algae specialists".

The first Charophyte I ever encountered; at Traeth Mawr near Brecon.
Delicate Stonewort or Chara virgata

So they are sort of the missing link between the terrestrial plants that dominate the modern world and the algae that went before them; tending to lurk low down in the water compared to the vascular species that have adopted water as their habitat due to a lack of structure and buoyancy aids to do anything else.

(This is all horribly simplified - the plants the BSBI concerns itself with are all part of the Archaeplastid kingdom and Algae is a rather lose term.)

Kenfig is always a worthwhile place to go in any case and several Charophytes were found in the afternoon after a morning spent learning about them and peering at their structure with microscopes.

Searching Kenfig Pool

Among those found were:
Clustered Stonewort or Tolypella glomerata

Rough Stonewort or Chara aspera - the "bulbils" that form low down on the plant.

A close-up from Brecon:
 Delicate Stonewort or Chara virgata

Examining the samples from Kenfig Pool (Hannah who organised the event to the left).

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