Carmarthenshire Flora Project: Progress in 1989 PDF Print E-mail

Llanelli Naturalists Newsletter - Summer 1990
Richard Pryce

Recording continues apace although I have the feeling that the volume of records received recently is on the decline. This, of course, is to be expected now that virtually every tetrad has been examined and most common species found. I suspect, however, that there is still much to be discovered in semi-natural habitats more remote from main points of access. It is these sites which are very important to seek-out and record, both from the aspect of obtaining comprehensive coverage for the flora and also building up a reasonable local knowledge for conservation purposes.

There were six new vice-county records (ncr), two were bramble microspecies, the remainder non-natives. Mike Porter, recently described as one of the country's best all-round botanists, provided copies of his 1988 bramble records from eleven Carms. sites among which were ncrs of Rubus ludensis (northwest of Cynghordy 22/816406 and Sugar Loaf SN833427) and R. Iindbergii (Tirabad Road, Cynghordy SN811397 and Sugar Loaf SN833427). He also recorded R. pailidus from north of Ynyswen, SN532249, the third vcr and first since Ley's 1897 records from the northeast of the county.

Two of the alien ncrs were water plants. Lysichiton americanum (Skunk Cabbage) was discovered at the edge of the Upper Cwmoernant Reservoir, Carmarthen, SN418213, in April by P. Swire (det. Ian Morgan (IKM)) and a colony of Nymphoides peltata (Fringed Water-lilly) 4m across growing in Machynys Pond, Llanelli, SS512980 by Barry Stewart (BS) in August. Agrostemma , coronaria (Lamb's Ears) and Lupinus polyphyllus (a Lupin) were the other ncrs, a few plants of the former being recorded in July by George Hutchinson (GH) on a newly reseeded road embankment at Heol Allt-y-cnap, Johnstown, Carmarthen, SN394191, and the latter by John Killick (HJK) & Dorothy Brookman (DB) on a reclaimed tip at Cynheidre No.3 colliery, SN527107, during the annual recording meeting.

The second vice-county records made in 1989, in my view, are probably of greater significance than the ncrs noted above. First was the discovery of Daphne mezereum (Mezerion) in February by Nigel Stringer and Dic Davies whilst undertaking research for the Nature Conservancy Council in the limestone woodlands near Carmel, SN5916, as reported in my last year's review. This nationally important site is under imminent threat of destruction from quarrying and a legal battle is pending. As is so often the case in these instances, it is not until a site is under threat that detailed survey work is undertaken which invariably reveals that its wildlife significance has been underestimated in the past. This in turn only serves to increasingly polarize the opposing sides. (Nigel and Dic will be giving a lecture on this subject to the Society on October 11th).

Other second vcrs were IKM's report of the cotton grass, Eriophorum latifolium in base-rich, flushed grassland near Pont Aber, SN770204. This was the first vc record since that of Knight in 1908 and may well be a rediscovery of his site. James and Mary Iliff (J&MI) discovered a small population of Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Cowberry) on the northeastern slope of Carreg-yr-Ogof at SN779215. The area is covered by large irregularly spread limestone block scree with Empetrum nigrum (Crowberry) dominant between the blocks, out of the reach of the sheep. Carex montana (Mountain Sedge), Gymnocarpium robertianum (Limestone Fern) and Antennaria dioica (Mountain Everlasting) still await rediscovery. Finally the second vcr of the sedge Carex strigosa was made during the annual recording meeting in June by Robin Walls (RW) & HJK from a species-rich roadside near Cilsan bridge, SN590218.

Only five new tetrad records were made for Carum verticillatum (Whorled Caraway) during the year (SN332, SN41H, SN43R, SN54A and SN61P). The general distribution pattern of the species remains unchanged with its stronghold in the meadows of the coalfield in the southeast of the vc, and the northern and northeastern uplands supporting widespread though usually sparse populations often comprising of depauperate individuals especially in exposed and rigorous conditions.

Several poorly recorded coalfield tetrads were visited during the season, mainly by out-county recorders attending the Ferryside meetings. In fact one of the field trips associated with the Wales AGM was to examine the rhos pastures of Rhosydd Gwyddfan, Llandybie (SN6215) where not only was Carum seen in abundance, but also typical associated species including Cirsium dissectum (Meadow Thistle), Genista anglica (Petty Whin), Salix repens (Creeping Willow), Hypericum tetraptrum (Square-stemmed St.John's Wort), Carex hostiana (Tawny Sedge), the hybrid sedge C. hostiana x demissa, C. pulicaris (Flea Sedge), EquiSetum sylvaticum (Wood Horsetail), Isolepis setacea (Bristle Scirpus) and Serratula tinctoria (Saw-wort). It was a pity that the day was so hot that many participants had 'wilted' by the time the best area was reached! HJK & DB discovered Carum meadows and associated heath and woodland near Cynheidre No.3 colliery, (SN527107) with Cirsium dissectum, Salix repens, Carex pallescens (Pale Sedge), C. rostrata (Bottle Sedge), Eriophorum angustifolium (Common Cotton-grass), E. vaginatum (Hare's-tail Cotton Grass), C. sylvatica (Wood Sedge) and Epipactis helleborine (Common Helleborine) and on the nearby tips and railway there were Centaurium erythraea (Common Centaury), Aira caryophyllea (Silvery Hair-grass), A. praecox (Early Hair-grass), Desmazeria rigida (Hard Grass) and Vulpia myuros (Rat's-tail Fescue). Similar Carum heath was found in the Llannon. area (SN50J) by RW but the adjacent square, Blaenlliedi (SN50E), produced in addition Myrica gale (Bog Myrtle), Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern), Eleocharis quinquiflora (Few-flowered Spike-rush), Menyanthes trifoliata (Bogbean) and Narthecium ossifragum (Bog Asphodel). Further species-rich, damp heaths were discovered near Clochyrie (SN5OH) by GH & Denys Williams.

Away from the coalfield more wet heath and meadow sites were discovered. For example, IKM reported Narthecium, Wahlenbergia hederacea (Ivy-leaved Bellflower) and Dactylorchids at Plas Hebron (SN172276). GH found damp heathland with seven sedge species, Succisa pratensis (Devil's-bit) and Polygonum bistorta (Bistort) near Cwmduad (SN336) and at Abergiar (SN54A), Carum was associated with Succisa, Potamogeton polygonifolius (Bog Pondweed) and Menyanthes. Carum-Carex damp heath associations were also recorded by GH near Idole (SN41H) and Crugiau Rhos Wen (SN43R). Jean Green (JG) attended both Ferryside meetings and wet meadows which she visited with Pauline Goodhind at Gwaunydd Cochion (SN537255) proved to be particularly rich having nine sedge species including Carex pallescens and C. laevigata (Smooth Sedge), Platanthera chlorantha (Greater Butterfly Orchid), Polygonum bistorta, Sanguisorba officinalis (Great Burnet), Isolepis setacea and Nasturtium microphyllum (Small Watercress) but surprisingly no Carum! This zealous pair also recorded P. chlorantha in Llanfynydd Churchyard together with Listera ovata (Common Twayblade) and Sanguisorba officinalis. Several rich grassland sites were recorded from within the bounds of the Brecon Beacons National Park by Dawn Gray whilst carrying-out N.C.C. Phase II survey work. These included Llwyndewi (SN659178) (Avenula pubescens (Hairy Oat)), Craig yr Odyn (SN652183) (Carum, Cirsium dissectum, Carex hostiana, Briza media (Quaking Grass)), Cwmberach (SN675151) (Carex pallescens), Hengrofft (SN675190) (Carex hostiana, C, pallescens, Ophioglossum vvulgatum (Adder's Tongue Fern)) and Dolycoed (SN699143) (Carer hostiana, C. pallescens, Isolepis setacea, Cirsium dissectum, Veronica scutellata (Marsh Speedwell)).

Several tetrads in the Tywi valley were looked at during the season. In addition to Carer strigosa, HJK & RW also discovered Scirpus sylvaticus (Wood Club-rush) (SN584204), Carex riparia (Great Pond-sedge), C. vesicaria (Bladder Sedge), Potamogeton crispus (Curled Pondweed) and Vulpia myuros from Cilsan (SN52V). Near Llanarthne GH, RDP & Alyson Griffiths (AG) reported Montle sibirica (Pink Purslane) at its furthest west station in the vc to date (SN535206) together with freshwater marsh and ox-bow species including Carex rostrata, Potamogeton natans (Broad-leaved Pondweed), Eleocharis palustris (Common Spike-rush), and the water crowfoot Ranunculus peltatus (SN52F) and Alopecurus myosuroides (Black-grass) from the car park of the Golden Grove pub (SN533203). A marsh in the Teifi valley near Henllan produced several sedges including Carex laevigata, (Smooth Sedge) whilst Malva moschata (Musk Mallow) grew on the roadside nearby (SN349401, RDP & AG).

New records from the Ferryside foreshore and dunes (SN3161) made at both the recording meeting and the Wales AGM included Briza media, Desmazeria rigida, Centaurium pulchellum (Lesser Centaury) (SN368108), Conium maculatum (Hemlock), Listera ovata, Orobanche hederae (Ivy Broomrape) (c30 flower spikes on the landward side of a tall dune at SN367107), Sisysbrium altissimum (Tall Rocket) and the toad rush Juncus ambiguus (on disturbed ground on a building site at SN396107). GH also reported the water crowfoot Ranunculus aquaticus and Zannichellia palustris (Horned Pondweed) from nearby Morfa Uchaf (SN370118).

Other coastal records included Avenula pubescens, Carex spicata (Spiked Sedge) and Centaurium pulchellum from derelict ground northeast of the Burry Port power station (GH, SN453007), Desmazeria maritima (Sea Hard-grass) and Centaurea scabiosa (Greater Knapweed) from the west side of Pembrey Harbour breakwater (GH, SS437999) and one plant of Inula crithmoides (Golden Samphire) from the saltmarsh south of Penybryn, Bynea (IKM, SS541976). The vegetation survey carried out by staff of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust on their new reserve at Penclacwydd, east of Llanelli, turned. up Zostera angustifolia (Narrow-leaved Eel-grass) 'very sparse over a wide area of saltmarsh, odd shoots tending to be associated with shallow intertidal pools around mussel beds' (K.J. Peberdy, approx. SS519975, SS522975 and SS525976), this is the fourth vcr and the first since 1947. Parentucellia viscosa (Yellow Bartsia) was found to be abundant on bare disturbed ground at Penclacwydd by BS and later IKM reported a few plants from nearby Machynys, SS517975 together with two plants of Verbascum virgatum (Twiggy Mullien). The newly created ponds at to the at Machynys, SS512978, held Zannichellia palustris and Hippuris vulgaris (Mare's-tail) (IKM).

Salix pentandra (Bay Willow) was reported by IKM from both Ynys Uchaf (SN485148, with Derek Wells) and northwest of Gorslas (SN566145). He also recorded one plant of Anacamptis pyramidalis (Pyramidal Orchid) at Capel Dyddgen Quarry, Crwbin (SN467127), the first inland record for the species in Carms. The small and rather unsalubrious pond next to the new Tesco store at Trostre, Llanelli (SS525996) was also examined by IKM whose list included, Potamogeton crispus, P. natans, Myriophyllum spicatum (Spiked Water-milfoil), Bidens tripartita (Tripartite Bur-marigold) and Ranunculus sceleratus (Celery-leaved Buttercup). The Madenhair Spleenwort Asplenium trichomanes subsp. trichomanes was also contributed by IKM from a shaded sandstone outcrop a? Alit Cwm Ddol-fawr (SN488273) and confirmed under the microscope by GH, the sixth vcr and furthest west by about 30km from Penhill (SN3OZ) and a good patch of Stachys arvensis (Field Woundwort) from an arable field near Pantglas (SN368256) both reported by HJK; a roadside verge at Whitlera, Llanfynydd (SN579243) had Carex otrubae (False Fox Sedge); Orobanche rapum-genistae (Great Broomrape) was discovered in May growing in abundance over an extensive area at Cefn Crug Quarry, Llandovery (SN778345) by Tim Sykes, Conservation Officer with the Brecknock Wildlife Trust; Stephen Evans reported a new site for Potentilla palustris (Marsh Cinqufoil) from Rhydwilym (SN12C), a species which is apparently more common in the west of the county though it is also locally abundant in Glamorgan to the east; John Steer of Saron, Llandyssul recorded Veronica agrestis (Green Field Speedwell) (SN33Y), Drosera rotundifolia (Common Sundew) (SN33W) and Carum at SN393388 (SN33Z), showing that there is potential in that area for more concentrated work and RDP & AG found c30 plants of Spergularia rubra (Sand Spurrey) and several of Veronica agrestis growing on a disturbed forestry track at SN388343.

Annie Mary Pell visited nineteen graveyards and seven railway sites during the year though her company was sadly missed at both Ferryside meetings; I hope that she will be well enough to attend the 1990 get-together. Notable records included Viola odorata (Sweet Violet) (Pontyberem Church, SN4891O3), Vicia hirsuta (Hairy Tare) (Bethlehem Chapel, Porthyrhyd, SN520158), Sanguisorba officinalis (Llanlluan Chapel, SN557158), Agrostis gigantea (Common Bent-grass) (Derwydd Railway Crossing, SN621169 and Llandybie Station, SN620115) and Senecio viscosus (Sticky Groundsel) (Llangadog Station, SN700286).

James and Mary Iliff again concentrated their efforts in the northeast of the county. The Glanranell square (SN63N) proved to be particularly fruitful with wetland species including Eleocharis palustris, Isolepis setacea, Lythrum portula (Water Purslane), Scrophularia aquatica (Water Figwort) and Wahlenbergia as well as wayside plants including Agrostis gigantea, Carex muricata subsp. lamprocarpa (Prickly Sedge), Corydalis claviculata (Climbing Corydalis) and Hypericum humifusum (Creeping St. John's Wort). They also recorded Geranium columbinum (Long-stalked Cranesbill), Polygonum bistorta and Polygonatum multiflorum (Soloman's Seal) from Esgerdawe (SN64A) and Serratula tinctoria and Poa nemoralis (Wood Poa) from west of Pumpsaint (SN64F).

Peter Wilde, who lives near Llidiadnenog, provided useful records for some underworked squares in his area including Platanthera chlorantha from SN53N.

I am again most grateful to all recorders and referees but particularly to GH who unfailingly continues to provide not only great quantities of records but also to spend hours determining difficult taxa at NMW or sending parcels off to the relevant referees for their critical comment. My thanks also to various official bodies for permission to have sight of some internal reports from which I have been able to abstract the plant records.

REFERENCE

Ellis, R.G. (1983). Flowering Plants of Wales. Cardiff.