'Early in April Mervyn Howells, myself and a handful of other volunteers undertook a survey of Draba aizoides (Yellow Whitlowgrass) of the south
. Gower is the only known Gower Coast UK location for this species in the UK, although it is also found
in the mountain ranges across Europe such as the Alps, the Pyrenees, the
Carpathians and the Jura mountains. It grows in cushions in crevices and on ledges along the
Carboniferous Limestone from Pwll Du in the east to Tear’s Point in the west.
As it is an early flowering species, its yellow flowers are particularly
distinctive at this time of year before most other species are in flower.
Mervyn has been monitoring the populations for more than 20 years and has an amazing knowledge of the distribution of plants which often occur in very precarious situations! Although it clearly has a limited distribution in the UK, in Gower it does appear to be stable; this year around 1400 plants were recorded. This is likely to be an underestimate as some locations are extremely difficult to survey safely, where we also noticed good numbers of plants growing in the grassland sward at the top and bottom of cliffs. This may be partly due to changes in grazing pressure or might be related to successful seed production or seed germination in recent years.
|Distribution map of all pre-2013 records of Yellow Whitlowgrass|
(results from 2013 show a very similar pattern)
During the survey we also noticed a larger population of Sedum album (White Stonecrop) than we were previously aware of, primarily along the thin band of therophytic vegetation on the cliff tops. This plant is frequent in the droughted slopes around Port Eynon and we are keen to keep an eye on its spread west and its effects on the local flora. If anyone has any new or historic records for this species we would be interested in hearing from you.'
|Distribution map of all pre-2013 records of White Stonecrop|
(pre-2000 records shown by smaller dots)