Saturday, October 14, 2023

Small-flowered Catchfly

 Not recorded since 1950 but seen last week by Ray Woods at the edges of a Swede field.

Small-flowered Catchfly, Gludlys amryliw, Silene gallica

So the history in the county goes: “Pen y lan, near Brecon” by Miss Bird in 1809, J A Wade (NMW), no date given but between 1930 and 1950 and now this. The species is in decline in the country - as an arable weed but thisfinding suggests there may be a long-lived seed bank.

Sunday, October 01, 2023

The Molinia Horribleness scale

 No exciting finds this week for the group (but a member, Anne found a Musk Thistle on the Usk):

Carduus nutans, Musk Thistle

The main group outing though always looked like a rather dim hope of great finds but at least we got some records for an unrecorded tetrad.

The outward walk was very hard going in boggy tussocky Molinia caerulea, Purple Moor-grass which I decided was at least an 8 on the Molinia horribleness scale* which I had just thought up.

And no rewards of any note for peering into the boggier bits with only a few records on the whole outward journey. We got far enough to see more promising land a further kilometre away but decided we had to turn back. 

We did agree to do a different route which we thought, from our observations coming along, might not be so bad - and it wasn't (7 maybe). Crucially though we did on that route find some "better" plants. (Apologies to Soft-rush, Foxglove and Heath Bedstraw - we do appreciate you really!)

Marsh Pennywort and Lady's Smock among other rather "better" finds.

The view from as far as we got.

* It goes up to 11...

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Quillwort at Llyn Carw


Llyn Carw - about 6 km trek across difficult moorland from Dolymynach.

The Cambrian Mountain Society teamed up their walking expertise with botanists last week on this walk to our most remote lake. 

Quillwort was found there in 1979 by Ray Woods and determined to be the rather more rare Spring Quillwort, Isoetes echinspora by S G Harrison at the National Museum of Wales. (He was a co-author of the book that describes them for Wales.)

It was at that time “Common on north and west margins”.

Gill Foulkes, a botanist member of the recent expedition, did find a Quillwort on the other side of the lake. (None was found where the original sample was taken.)

Here it is:
The Quillwort found by Gill Foulkes last week, which turned out to be Isoetes lacustris

You have to sacrifice a leaf to prove it's a Quillwort:

And knowing which one needs these megaspores to be examined:
They are about 0.5 mm across...

So maybe the lake does actually still have both of these Quillwort species (the north and west has the more suitable habitat for Spring Quillwort).

Further expeditions are required!

And the members of this walk did prove that botany and long walks can be compatible - with a good recce prior to the day...

Friday, September 01, 2023

An exciting find and other matters

 A record popped up on iRecord last week that is a great new find for the Vice County.

We already have the most southerly occurrence of Circaea alpina (Alpine Enchanter's Nightshade) in the British Isles I think but our one small (and somewhat struggling) population at Craig y Cilau is now joined by a substantial and healthy population found by Sam Thomas while visiting the (also very rare) population of Sorbus stenophylla near Capel y Ffin in the Llanthony valley.

Circaea alpina (Alpine Enchanter's Nightshade) picture, Sam Thomas

Sam said "The rain was torrential and we started from the top which was an unwise choice, once we'd seen the Sorbus we decided to cut straight down the cliff to escape the rain as quickly as possible. We found the Circaea on the way down. It was in a very inaccessible location so not that surprising that it hadn't been found before."

There are a good number of plants on at least two levels of a small, mossy flushed cliff . The Brecknock Botany Group will be visiting next year in early July to collect a herbarium specimen and see it for themselves (those up to the intrepid climb...)

Another picture by Jacques Turner-Moss 

In other - less exciting news, the group have been filling in some upland under-recorded tetrads - sometimes with surprising finds - and certainly with many extra map dots for axiophytes of the county.

We have noticed that this year's weather has really suited Hypericum humifusum with many more records than usual of much larger and well-spreading plants than we usually see.

Hypericum humifusum, Trailing St John's-wort above the Irfon river

Friday, May 12, 2023

Yet another round up

A first for many of us last Wednesday when eagle-eyed Arlene spotted Adder's Tongue (a fern) in lightly grazed turf near Talgarth. 

Two well-matured fronds fronds of Ophioglossum vulgatum, Adder's Tongue, from Wednesday. Only a few had well-developed fruiting bodies as here. The first population spotted was much less noticeable than this.

It isn't often recorded these days in the county and was a new find for most of the group. (As for myself, I have seen it before and even spotted it in the past on more sparsely vegetated sites but I would not have picked these ones out from the abundant Celandine leaves among the grass I am sure.)

Claire took this picture of Changing forget-me-not which we found on the same excursion:
Myosotis discolor subsp. dubia, Changing Forget-me-not, this is the subspecies we see more often which starts with white flowers turning to blue.

The week before it was good to be reminded that Navelwort doesn't only grow on walls. This was north of Brecon.

Umbilicus rupestris, Navelwort near Llandefaelog fach.

And a reminder that our Adoxa hunt is on again this year. This picture from Stephen. See details of the Adoxa hunt here.
Adoxa moschatellina, Moschatel

There are many other hunt challenges - see here and here.