The Moss Group – Peter Martin (county bryophyte recorder), with Juliet Bailey, Cathy Beeching, Libby Houston, Claire and Mark Kitchen, and Richard Lansdown – visited Ban-y-Gor wood (ST536967) on 1 November 2003. Ban-y-Gor is a Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust reserve of steep woodland and shaded cliff on the banks of the Wye near Chepstow.
In total, 49 species of moss and 12 species of liverwort were recorded.
The outstanding plant found was the very local Marchesinia mackaii, which in places covered areas as large as 1 sq m. At times this was the only bryophyte on the rock faces and was clearly a pioneer in areas of relatively new rock fall.
In the first quarry (old tractor) the bryophytes on the boulders were luxuriant. A Ctenidium was found that looked different from the normal Ctenidium to the extent that those who knew Ctenidium could not recognise the plant. I thought that this was the variety fastigatum and I sent the specimen to Gordon Rothero (BBS recorder of mosses). He was not that convinced. He said he had just received a specimen very similar from Cliff Townsend (once of Gloucestershire) which Cliff had named var. condensatum, which Gordon also rejected. I am not convinced about our plant and hope to have a look at more specimens of C. molluscum some time.
Near the bottom of the path there was the very slender Amblystegium confervoides (formerly Platydictya). This was on the top surface of a stone and it made Amblystegium look robust by comparison! This has not been seen for about 60 years in Gloucestershire and is therefore officially re-recorded. A specimen has been lodged with the BBS herbarium.
In the first quarry there was Hylocomium brevirostre on the boulders along with the local Eurhynchium striatulum (formerly Isothecium). On the rock faces above was the minute liverwort Cololejeunea calcarea. The red carpet of liverwort on a decaying log was Nowellia curvifolia. Scapania nemorea was quite common on the more sheltered rock faces, a liverwort I have not seen further to the east in the Cotswolds.
Plenty of commoner bryophytes were found. Trichostomum brachydontium was extremely common on cracks in the rock face or ledges often growing with Eucladium verticillatum – which is unique in the moss flora in having rounded teeth only at the base of the leaf. These are visible with the hand lens (x20). It is always a pleasure to see Schistidium ! We found 2 species – most of the plants seen were S. crassipilum with a few scraps of S. apocarpum. Unusually, there was a tuft of S. crassipilum on a tree next to the river. The tuft was about 2m. above the ground. I have seen in the past some strange assemblages of bryophtes on trees close to active quarries. Here the dust settles on the trees and odd things are found on them such as Tortella, Didymodon etc.. The tree here did not seem like that. I do not know whether dried dust from the riverbank might get blown onto the trees to produce a similar situation.
This visit was part of series of visits to survey the bryophyte flora of Gloucestershire nature reserves. Anyone is welcome to attend the meetings, no experience necessary. Contact Peter Martin (firstname.lastname@example.org) for details of future meetings.
Ban-y-Gor Wood is a Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust reserve, and is open at all times. Casual visitors are requested to keep to the main path.
This list covers what in the end was a short walk into the reserve, starting at the old quarry at ST540968, then proceeding along the lower rock faces at ST541968 then finally briefly down the path to the river at ST542970.
Amblystegium serpens var. serpens
Bryum capillare var. capillare
Ctenidium molluscum var. molluscum
Fissidens taxifolius var. taxifolius
Hypnum cupressiforme var cupressiforme
Isothecium myosuroides var. myosuroides
Tortula muralis var. muralis
Zygodon viridissimus var. viridissimus