Monday, 28 May 2012

Botanising in VC48 Merioneth 2011

Apart from the months of February, May and June, all rainfall averages in 2011 were well below normal, which explains our good luck in holding 5 out of six meetings of Merioneth Naturalists Group unaffected by rain!  This was our second successful season, in which we made 16 new or updated ‘hectad’ [10 kilometre square] records: altogether over 5000 records were added to the county database by all recorders during the year. These records are all forwarded to the Botanical Society of the British Isles main database, adding to the sum of our knowledge of British plants.

The only native first record for the county was a hybrid sedge, Carex x decolorans.  In 2002 Peter Benoit and I searched in vain for its rarer parent, Stiff Sedge, Carex bigelowii, on the over-grazed summit ridge of the Berwyns Now, since the changed grazing regime on the National Nature Reserve, it has been recorded several times. As its range now overlaps with the other parent, Common Sedge, C. nigra, their hybrid has been found at around 600m, which is about as low down the mountains as the Stiff Sedge grows.

Another ‘first’ for the county was Arthur Chater’s find of Large-leaved Avens, Geum macrophyllum near Pantperthog, while he was revisiting a known site for another rare alien, Purple Toothwort, Lathraea clandestina.  It is spreading in VC46, Cardiganshire, but this was its first recorded appearance in Merioneth.

Some new hectad records were made for native species, for example the diminutive Lesser Skullcap, Scutellaria minor and the lovely Ivy-leaved Bellflower, Wahlenbergia hederacea, suggesting that even non-rare plants can still be found in new places for the first time.

Merioneth Naturalists Group [Grwp Natur Meirionnydd] is a faithful band of supporters (several of whom are regular visitors to Wales rather than permanent residents): we are always hoping to find more people interested in botany in the county.  There are such huge swathes of countryside which need recording, and you don’t need to be an expert to join our friendly group. 

If you would like to receive our programme for 2012, please get in touch with the county Recorders,  Sarah Stille:    or Rod Gritten:
And please take special note of our new Merioneth Residential at Caerdeon,  24th  – 27th July, for three or four days of botanising based in the glorious countryside of the Mawddach Estuary, near Barmouth.  The whole event costs only £135 but non-residents will be most welcome [free!] for some or part of the time. Details will be sent to anyone expressing an interest.

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