30 July 2016

Amazon Wildlife

Pale Galigale (Cyperus eragrostis) in dry pond bed along Amazon Road

The new Amazon Road which connects with the recycling plant near Elba Crescent has some interesting man-made habitats which include a small pond, grasslands and disturbed ground. I have watched the development of the vegetation around the pond for the last few years. It dries up every summer and last summer the muddy floor had a large population of Red Goosefoot (Chenopodium rubrum). There was also a small patch of  Pale Galingale (Cyperus eragrostis), an attractive member of the sedge family that likes to grow in places that are flooded in winter and dry up in summer. This year there was no sign of the Red Goosefoot, but Pale Galingale is now dominating a large area of the pond. Pale Galingale is an alien in the British Flora, first recorded in the wild on Guernsey just over a hundred years ago. It is remarkable that this tropical, American species is now turning up in suitable habitats all over South Wales and is surely responding to climate change.
Several large populations of Yellow Bartsia (Parentucellia viscosa) occur in suitable places along Amazon Road. This is a designated Scarce Plant Species in the British Flora and a Biodiversity Action Plan species in Neath Port Talbot. It has been known from the Jersey Marine area for over 50 years but it has benefited greatly from the recent creation of open mosaic habitats.

Yellow Bartsia (Parentucellia viscosa) in open mosaic habitat along Amazon  Road

A few years ago Barry Stewart found some Oak-leaved Goosefoot (Chenopodium glaucum) in disturbed habitat around Swansea Docks. This very scarce achaeophyte has only been recorded a few times in Glamorgan (or anywhere else in Wales) and Barry's excellent record was the first for a long time. So I was glad to see it growing on some disturbed, weedy ground near the Amazon site with a number of other archaeophytes such as Black Nightshade (Solanum nigrum) and Fat Hen (Chenopodium album). Oak-leaved Goosefoot may not win any prizes in a beauty contest, but it has  a distinct appearance with its small, oak-like leaves which are mealy-grey underneath. It's good to know that these archaeophytes are still able to survive in disturbed ephemeral habitats in our area.

Oak-leaved Goosefoot (Chenopodium glaucum) in waste ground near Amazon

Leaves Oak-leaved Goosefoot

Before the Jersey Marine Amazon site was cleared for construction, there was a large area of birch/willow woodland which supported a rich community of fungi, thriving colonies of Common Wintergreen (Pyrola minor) and one of the largest populations of Yellow Bird's-nest (Monotropa hypopitys) that I have ever seen (hundreds of plants). A small colony of Common Wintergreen survives, but the rest has gone. The apparent loss of Yellow Bird's Nest ( a UK Biodiversity Action Plan Species) here is lamentable. Nature moves on!


Barry Stewart said...

Well done with the Goosefoot Charles, that's a very nice record indeed. An interesting assemblage in all, 'though something of a small phoenix from the ashes of what was once there!

Ian Morgan said...

What a nice set of botanical blogs, Charles! Very interesting text and first-class photos as always.