26 August 2012

Stag's-horn Clubmoss

The photo shows some Stag's-horn Clubmoss (Lycopodium clavatum) which was found today on a north-facing, mossy bank growing among heather, near Resolfen.

This is a very uncommon plant in Glamorgan and records of it in the county since the 1970s are few and far between. The Resolfen population is quite large (about 10 square metres) and the habitat it occurs in may have survived here for many decades, narrowly missing destruction by the development of conifer plantation. Amazingly, there were also scattered plants of Fir Clubmoss (Huperzia selago) growing along side it and nearby there was a small population of Round-leaved Wintergreen (Pyrola rotundifolia).
Clubmosses are vascular plants, related to ferns and usually associated with montane habitats. They are not mosses. The occurrence of this relict community in the middle of the Neath Valley gives us a fascinating glimpse of what must have been a more widespread feature of local vegetation once upon a time.


Nigel Ajax-Lewis said...

Stag's--horn clubmoss being a S42 species and growing on land that just might be owned by the Wales Government as a publicly owned conifer plantation rather than in the private sector, there should be some optimism for the survival of this population into the future, if they are made aware of it.

I believe there are similar populations in the forestry rides on the ridge between Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil in RCT.


Charles Hipkin said...

Thanks Nigel. Yes, fingers crossed that little habitat mosaics like this in NPT can be protected. Similarly for RCT where, as you say, there have been a few encouraging records in the last 10 years.