Friday, 9 August 2019

Caerdeon Botanical Residential for Meirionnydd ( VC48)

July 27th: Visit to Craig y Benglog with Martyn Stead and Phil Brown.

Craig y Benglog lies next to Allt y Benglog National Nature reserve which comprises an Ash woodland. These trees grow over underlying basic rocks which give them an extra mineral boost. Consequently, Phil Martyn and I felt we might be in for an interesting day in this area. On a previous visit I had found an old trackway leading up the valley so this easy access route quickly led us into the recording area. The day developed as a series of deviations upwards or downwards from this track, either taking in the ledges of the crags above or down to the Afon Eiddon which cuts down into some basic lavas.

 The first excursion upwards to the crags yielded little that was unexpected, so we scrambled down to the river. The river cliffs bordering it soon yielded interesting records of Helianthenum nummularium (Common Rock-rose), a new tetrad record and a plant which has only been recorded in 4 tetrads of VC48, and Sedum forsterianum (Rock Stonecrop) another new tetrad record and only recorded in 10 tetrads. These were accompanied with Origanum vulgare (Wild Majoram) and Sedum telephium (Orpine)
Sedum forsterianum (Rock Stonecrop)

Some of these ledges seem to preserve remnant woodland flora too with Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) and Primula vulgaris (Primrose), Luzula sylvatica (Great Wood Rush) and Geum rivale (Water avens)
Further progress from rock to rock brought new discoveries. Arabis hirstua (Hairy rock-cress) (another new tetrad record) and Melica nutans which has only been recorded in 2 other tetrads of VC 48 and a new record for the tetrad.
Melica nutans Mountain Melick

Then Phil explored a meander further up the valley whilst Barbara and Martyn wove a way through the boulder scree to the upper crags, soon to be joined by the ever-energetic Phil. Here we found an isolated Populus tremulus (Aspen) at the base of a crag and then Martyn followed some intuition straight to a hidden Oak fern (Gymnocarpon dyropteris) in a scree niche. Meanwhile Phil searched some more crags to find more Melica nutans, Hyacinthoides non scripta (Bluebell) and Cystopteris fragilis (Brittle Bladder Fern)
Martyn Stead demonstrating the site of the Oak Fern
Gymnocarpium dryopteris - the Oak Fern

Overall 156 records were made but the quality of the finds and the landscape made for some great plant hunting. We also paid a visit to the local farmer on the way back, who shared some of the local mining and farming history of the site and was interested in the special plants.

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