Saturday, June 22, 2019

The last two weeks

The first week started with a report of a rarity growing near Brecon:
Greater Broomrape, Gorfanhadlen fawr or Orobanche rapum-genistae

This is a rare plant nationally and declining in Brecknock so it was good to hear of a previously unknown population from Phil. Like other members of its genus, this grows on the roots of another plant so does not need leaves or chlorophyll. This species grows on Gorse or Broom (and other woody members of that family) so there should be plenty of host plant for it around here! Maybe we don't inspect Gorse bushes enough. In this case the Gorse in question had been severely cut back - maybe prompting the plant underground to send up flowering spikes.


I went to the Llyn Brianne Dam area the next day, mainly for a guided geological session but did make some records of local specialities.
Just out of county looking south from the dam.
We lunched here (Soar y Mynydd Chapel).
This was abundant but not yet flowering on some of the rocks in the area:
Sheep's-bit, Clefryn or Jasione montana (at Stanner Rocks in Radnorshire).


Then the BIS Bioblitz at a farm near Hay saw two of us fighting our way up the local stream to see what was growing. There was a lot of Woodruff:
Woodruff, Briwydd bêr or Galium odoratum
Growing with Wild Garlic, Allium ursinum, and Dog's Mercury, Mercurialis perennis, in this picture.
The Wild Garlic was abundant. Ray Woods (coming in the other direction) spotted Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage first and it was quite abundant in calcareous flushes:
Alternate-leaved Golden-saxifrage, Eglyn bob yn eilddail or Chrysosplenium alternifolium 
Leaves scattered in a calcareous woodland flush. 

And there was this to talk about around us as we had our lunch in the farmyard:
Annual Pearlwort, Corwlyddyn unflwydd or Sagina apetala 


I called in on a road verge in Pontsticill where we had seen dried husks of a member of the Pink Family (Caryophyllaceae) in November. This wasn't what I expected:
Corncockle, Bulwg yr ŷd or Agrostemma githago 
An arable weed of the past but, in this case probably derived from a wild flower seed mixture. Still it adorns the verge well. We had been checking out the Brecon Mountain Railway:


A foray down the upper reaches of the Honddu (Brecon's river that joins the Usk there) led to a long list of records and we visited this cliff on one of the tributary streams where Wood Bitter-vetch was found in 1988. It's still there, clinging on and avoiding the sheep that have led to it not being elsewhere in the area.
Wood Bitter-vetch, Ffacbysen chwerw or Vicia orobus 
North of Upper Chapel on a cliff face. 


Finally, last Thursday we were set a challenge at the Caring for God's Acre meeting near Beulah (Eglwys Oen Duw) where we were told of a record from 1991 for Ivy-leaved Bellflower for the graveyard. It's not classic habitat for this but we looked, I missed it, and then Steph spotted it when peering down to examine a Heath Speedwell that one of the participants had asked about. 
Ivy-leaved Bellflower, Clychlys dail eiddew or Wahlenbergia hederacea 
That is the confirmatory picture from my phone (after some more looking around we found one flower) but here is a nice picture of this lovely little flower from the east of the Abergwesyn Commons:
After the meeting, Sue and I did some more recording in the area, finding a good patch of Wood Horsetail and some Cow-wheat:
Wood Horsetail, Marchrawnen y coed or Equisetum sylvaticum
Common Cow-wheat, Gliniogai or Melampyrum pratense

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Busy Times

Three outings in a week. First to common land above Talgarth to get explore an area not looked at for Brecon Botany for a while and where we soon saw:
Ivy-leaved Crowfoot, Crafanc-y-frân dail eiddew or Ranunculus hederaceus
- which we see much less than Round-leaved Crowfoot here. This was the one that inhabited this area though.

Also near where we parked as this Birch which had all the hallmarks of Betula celtiberica (now Betula pubescens subspecies celtiberica I believe).

The older members of the party took the easier route to the headwaters of the Rhiangoll, crossing over a low part of the Dragon's Back, but young Steph offered to take a look higher up and found this on rocks.
Hairy Rock-cress, Berwr-y-cerrig blewog or Arabis hirsuta
- the first record for this 10km square since Shiela Leitch found it not far away at a similar height in 1972.


Then some explorations near the Wye at Newbridge with Ray Woods where we saw another water-crowfoot in a quiet bend in the river.
Common Water-crowfoot, Crafanc-y-frân y dŵr or Ranunculus aquatilis

Ray took us to see the Stone Bramble that grows in a wood there.
Stone Bramble, Corfiaren or Rubus saxatilis


Finally to a section of the A40 - or the paths and streams either side of it between Trecastle and Halfway. I had just had a report of a splendid display of Pyrenean Lilies just by the road so we had to check that out.

Pyrenean Lily, Lili ddrewllyd or Lilium pyrenaicum
Obviously not native but equally obviously happy in their new home.

The Honeysuckle could be quite rampant.
Honeysuckle, Gwyddfid or Lonicera periclymenum

Needless to say a lot of records were made - many of them being plants that haven't been recorded for some time in the areas we visited.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Woodland with benefits and Llanwyrtyd not so rarities

But first the gap between this and the previous post was taken up with the BSBI Welsh AGM - of which a short pictorial summary:

This is what a group of eminent botanists looks like.
 And thanks to them this was spotted on Burry Port sea front:
Hairy Buttercup, Blodyn-ymenyn blewog or Ranunculus sardous

We were taken to see this which has taken up residence where a Power Station used to be:
Prostrate Toadflax, Llin-y-llyffant gorweddol or Linaria supina

Then at a lovely limestone site in land we saw a lot of good things including:
Marsh Cinquefoil, Pumnalen y gors or Comarum palustre (Potentilla palustris)
- which we don't often see in Brecknock.

And at Pembury Dunes we saw a lot more including:
Brackish Water-crowfoot, Crafanc-y-frân y morfa or Ranunculus baudotii

There were also talks and general Botanical chat...


Back in Brecknock we (the Brecknock Botany Group) went to a woodland where the owners wanted to know what they had growing there.

The most unexpected species was:
Coastal Redwood, Cochwydden Califfornia or Sequoia sempervirens 

A row of five of these trees that was well-established on what would not seem to be its natural habitat on a dryish hill in Brecknock.
It is one of the few such conifers that is capable of regrowing from a stump / fallen log as here:
There were plenty of good native plants as well including Moschatel (Town-Hall Clock), Sanicle and plenty of Bluebells. 
But, best of all, the owners had a barbecue and coffee with cake available to sustain us!


We could have done with such support for our day near Llanwrtyd where the requirements of the Atlas project required us to search for continued existence of such gems as Dog's Mercury, Moschatel and Wood Anemone. We found most of the list - with only Field Maple defeating us. The Dog's Mercury was in a hedgerow quite near where we parked but we didn't see any more all day. So it is comparatively rare there. It was a wet but rewarding day.

The Wood Anemone was looking great on the banks of the Irfon:
Wood Anemone, Blodyn y gwynt or Anemone nemorosa

And there was Hornbeam along the Irfon bank:
Hornbeam, Oestrwydden or Carpinus betulus

Burry Port Lighthouse

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Limes, Missing Orchids and a Neglected Square

Three outings last week - a lot for me (and practically two days of indoor work as a result making me a normal worker for a week).

The first was to the important woodland opposite Darren Fawr Reserve, where we found the Hutchinsia a week or two ago, particularly to see the Lime Coppice Stools there and try to find Dog's Mercury (yes!) which was mentioned as a characteristic plant of the woodland by Oliver Rackham but is (surprise to me) relatively rare in the area. It certainly is, as I found when I investigated past records, with only 9 scattered records for all time in the 10 km square. Sometimes the surprises in the recording lark are with species you dismiss with "that again"!

The woodland, Penmoelallt, is also host to rare Sorbus species but we weren't seeking them out on this occasion.

We were greeted at the car parking by a display of a rare archaeophyte species for the county:
Fairy Foxglove, Clychau’r tylwyth teg or Erinus alpinus

The evident losses from Ash-die back were sad to see. Lots of regeneration - lets hope some are resistant...

We found four in all of these old Limes
Small-leaved Lime, Pisgwydden dail bach or Tilia cordata - or possibly its hybrid with Large-leaved Lime - tbc

Towards the north of the woodland Wild Garlic became dominant - even under planted Beech. This picture was taken just at the start of the swards.
Ramsons, Wild Garlic, Craf y geifr or Allium ursinum

I didn't photograph the Dog's Mercury, Bresychen y cŵn or Mercurialis perennis but it was there - in quite some abundance albeit in patches.

At lunch I was able to photograph / record some Yew on Darren Fawr opposite us.
Yew, Ywen or Taxus baccata

And right at the top of the hill we saw a lot of this (after wading through Wild Garlic up the steep slope):
Smooth Lady's-mantle, Mantell-Fair lefn or Alchemilla glabra


Then to some lanes and public right of way paths near Hay taking us through an area where Green-winged Orchid used to grow. We found superb habitat but alas no orchids any more.

Including a new site for :
Meadow Saffron, Saffrwm y ddôl or Colchicum autumnale

It is common in the area though - apparently only since the Second World War when it is reported to have been grown commercially (for Colchicine while supplies from Turkey were cut off?)

Meadow Saxifrage, Tormaen y gweunydd or Saxifraga granulata
Which was a first for the member of the group who found it.

Lunchtime view back.

Nearby we found:
Alternate-leaved Golden-saxifrage, Eglyn bob yn eilddail or Chrysosplenium alternifolium

(Not a new record it turns out but an update and we were pleased with ourselves spotting the leaves.)

A newly dug pond in a wet area of meadow - we are looking at the Sedge in the next picture which is undoubtedly introduced.

Greater Pond-sedge, Hesgen-y-dŵr fawr or Carex riparia


The last outing was to record a neglected square near Libanus, check out the graveyard there and look at a local farm's woodland.

The neglected square had this strange bridge:

Scarlet Pimpernel, Llysiau'r cryman or Anagallis arvensis
- at Libanus graveyard. The only known site for this is the 10km square and still there from 1998.

I appreciated the mix of Bugle and Marsh Valerian at the woodland:

There was also abundant Bird Cherry around the farm, and a patch of a close relative of the sedge from the day before - this time native I am sure. (Lesser Pond-sedge, Hesgen-y-dŵr fach or Carex acutiformis.)

Bird Cherry, Coeden geirios yr adar or Prunus padus (Picture by Anne)


And lastly a picture submitted by a member of my mailing list with the questions: "Are they of any interest? Are they Spanish cross?" to which my answer was:

'Certainly interesting in that there are three white ones visible in a small area. They more normally occur at a rate of say one per ten square metres and are just a genetic variant of the English Bluebell. Spanish Bluebells hold their bells upward and the hybrid is in between and more robust. It is a curious aspect of academic botany that flower colour is often dismissed as a character – all the most comprehensive British Flora has to say about these variants is “rarely pink or white”.'

And to reinfoce the point -  anything unusual you spot in Brecknock (botanically!) is of interest to me!