Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Out-of-county botanising

Blysmus compressus
I've had an exciting weekend visiting “foreign parts”  in Hay-on-Wye, to join John Crellin’s field meeting in Brecknockshire, VC42.  The highlight was the Red List species, Flat-sedge, Blysmus compressus, in its only modern site in Wales. It was a great thrill to find it so abundant; it was hard to avoid treading on some of the dozens of plants on the tufa terraces where it grew. 
Potentilla rupestris 
[thanks to

The next day, we went to pay our respects to Rock Cinquefoil, Potentilla rupestris, which is also very scarce, growing in only two sites in Wales, here on the banks of the Wye in Radnorshire [VC43], and on Craig Breiddin in Montgomeryshire [VC47].The ledges where it grew were quite easy to scramble over, but the in-spate, dangerous-looking river  roared brown and turbid past them!  The plant itself was well-over flowering, and the colony rather sparse, but it is apparently holding its own.  In the long hot summer of 1976, we were told, some conscientious person used to come regularly to water it!

 River Wye in spate 
below the Potentilla ledges

The last day "abroad", was spent prospecting Cors Maen Llwyd [Denbighshire, VC50] with Jean Green, for the BSBI Welsh AGM excursion on Friday.  The excitement of the day was finding Carex x gaudiniana, the hybrid between Carex dioica and C. echinata, in some quantity with both its parents. This strange plant was known to me from the Sedge Handbook, but I hadn't realised that this was its classic site, so finding it was a completely unexpected delight! I had never dreamt I would find it - it is only recorded in two sites in Britain, this one and one in Ireland.  
Carex x gaudiniana
Carex x gaudiniana
[herbarium specimen]
There was plenty of Carex canescens [formerly C. curta] in the locality so I wonder whether its hybrid with C echinata, Carex x biharica, could also exist here?

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