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...

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