Sunday, April 28, 2019

Screes and Trees

We went out twice last week. A "normal" recording day (there really is no normal...) on Wednesday to look for Hutchinsia at Darren Fawr and a tree survey at Pwll y Wrach with the Wildlife Trust on Friday.

First a short digression on Hutchinsia - named for Ellen Hutchins, the first Irish woman botanist who lived in Ballylickey, County Cork and recorded all sorts of wonderful things in the area in the 1880s - and who I have tried to emulate when we visit the area which we do frequently.

The plant we were seeking on the scree slopes below Darren Fawr (north of Merthyr Tydfil) is a tiny Cabbage Family member that grows over the winter and flowers / seeds early in the year before conditions get too dry for it. It is an annual. (Another member of our group has been assiduously searching for it at Craig y Cilau near Llangattock where it also occurs.)

And we found it!
Hutchinsia, Beryn y graig or Hornungia petraea

Steph first spotted it after stopping to examine some Parley-piert, which we hadn't seen up until then either. It was quite well advanced with almost all flowers having set seed and all basal leaves gone with just a few stem leaves that were red and dead. The patch we found was quite extensive.
There are other sites for it elsewhere on the slopes and we would have sought them out - but the weather was atrocious so we went back to the car for lunch!

The original Latin name was Hutchinsia petraea but, when that had to change for taxonomic reasons the original dedication was maintained by christening it Hutchinsia as a "common name". The Welsh name seems to mean "Candytuft of the Rocks"

Here is a picture of the flowers from Avon Gorge:
We also saw:
Limestone Bedstraw, Briwydd y calch or Galium sterneri

Salad Burnet, Bwrned or Poterium sanguisorba subsp. sanguisorba (was Sanguisorba minor subsp. minor

Revitalised by lunch we explored the nearby Jewish Cemetery which was full of Cowslips and some Primroses but all I photographed was this elegant Thale Cress overlooking the road:
Thale Cress, Berwr y fagwyr or Arabidopsis thaliana 
Then the tree survey at Pwll y Wrach was a welcome chance to explore the reserve with a different perspective. We recorded most of the trees and all the sites we could find for the Sorbus torminalis that grows there:
Wild Service-tree, Cerddinen wyllt or Sorbus torminalis

We were pleased to see buds on the trees. An attempt to gather seed a few years back failed due to lack of any berries.

We also saw:
Dogwood, Cwyrosyn or Cornus sanguinea

Early-purple Orchid, Tegeirian coch y gwanwyn or Orchis mascula

A new site for this plant long known elsewhere in the reserve:

Herb-paris, Cwlwm cariad or Paris quadrifolia
and much more...

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Get involved in botany, they said, it will be fun, they said. This was very steep!

It has to be my companion's tweet that titles this post! (see on Twitter)

The plan was for a nice "circular walk with only 200m of ascent" near Llanwrtyd Wells. Correct but not the whole story...

Not a lot of pictures which is a pity as we "got" 131 species and many were flowering.

This as we approached had me thinking "Carex montana ?" But it's clearly not and can only be young Carex nigra I think...
Lunch occurred when we found a nice patch of unusual Violets.
Viola x intersita or Viola riviniana x canina?
We'll have to wait and see - samples are in the press and one is growing in a pot to see if it sets viable seed.

You can just see a Lizard's tail here as it disappears before the photograph could be taken:
The rocky peak we climbed to didn't have any of the things previously recorded quite a long time ago but did have this on the rock face which wasn't much in evidence in the moor around. 
Crowberry, Creiglusen or Empetrum nigrum
Getting up was just a slog - getting down again more difficult - hence the tweet. 
And the valley we descended to was great - deserves a visit later in the year. Barbara went off to investigate a rock on the side of the valley which clearly had flowers on it - turned out to be Wood Anemone and a host of good associates including:
Orpine, Canewin or Sedum telephium
(And you can see Betony leaves by it.)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Taf Fechan

The reserve and not the reserve. It's a lovely area to visit at any time of year but we were hoping to find Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage.

We didn't but we were delighted to find what we did find and at least two species were new since last recorded in 2002.

The Golden-saxifrage might have been near one of the many natural springs like this one:

- but we didn't find any. I was drawn from afar to a clump that looked likely with an apparently single stem leaf as is common on the desired species:
Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage, Eglyn cyferbynddail or Chrysosplenium oppositifolium

This is a bract and part of the large inflorescence on these plants which are very clearly the species named above from lower leaf characters etc. This example even has a solitary flower above it.

Other species we saw:

Toothwort, Deintlys or Lathraea squamaria

We couldn't reach this vivid patch of Golden-saxifrage but I am pretty sure it is Opposite-leaved.

Celandines were abundant.
Lesser Celandine, Llygad Ebrill or Ficaria verna

As was
Marsh-marigold, Gold y gors or Caltha palustris

Great Horsetail, Marchrawnen fawr or Equisetum telmateia 

A large patch north of the reserve on the river. First record on our side of the river - it is abundant on the Glamorgan side.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

We Tolerate (almost) All Weathers

Wednesday was on the limit though and one of us was so cold after lunch in the car that they left early. It brightened up for our second stab at it and we managed to get a good list by the time we had all had enough. We got back to the cars just in time before torrential rain / sleet / hail for the drive back.

But the valley above Aber we were exploring had many delights including Wild Cherry blossom that we failed to photograph:
Wood-sorrel, Suran y coed or Oxalis acetosella 

An Early Grey moth, Xylocampa areola spotted by Alan

Maidenhair Spleenwort, Duegredynen gwallt y forwyn or Asplenium trichomanes subsp. quadrivalens

Earlier in the week I was a Craig Cerrig Gleisiad with NRW exploring the gullies where Purple Saxifrage grows. This is the view from as high as I went.
Younger, more intrepid, types found plenty of the Purple Saxifrage further up and recorded a lot more besides. I was content with this tiny plant with one flower below my feet:
Purple Saxifrage, Tormaen porffor or Saxifraga oppositifolia 
and this distant view (on lower cliffs) from below:
The plant close up from the past: