Taxonomic workshop 1975: Cardiff

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15 November 1975 - 16 November 1975

Workshop report

The second taxonomic workshop was held on 15 November in the Department of Botany, University College, Cardiff by kind permission of Prof. A.G. Smith, and arranged by the Secretary. It was attended by 17 members and 5 invited guests. As with the first meeting the speakers spoke about various ‘difficult’ genera, pointing out the problems within them, the pitfalls to avoid and characters to look for in naming material, and how to prepare material for microscopical study.

Dr. A. J. E. Smith briefly outlined the sections of the genus Mnium and provided a key for their determination. Characters for the separation of the species of the section Plagiomnium were discussed and a key to the species handed out. The difficulties involved in the identification of the plants became evident on examination of herbarium material.

Prepared slides of British species of Fissidens were provided by Dr. Smith for the second session, and the means of discriminating the difficult pairs of species, F. viridulus and F. bryoides, F. crassipes and F. rufulusF. cristatus and F. adianthoides were dealt with.

In the afternoon Mr. M. O. Hill spoke about the genus Sphagnum, emphasising characters that can be used in the field. Of special value are the pigmentation of the antheridial leaves, the general habit, and the orientation and shape of the stem leaves. The best way to identify the species is by first recognising the sections of the genus to which they belong. Until some experience has been gained, microscopic characters for identifying the sections may be found difficult to observe.

Fifteen people took to the field on 16 November in order to try to put into practice some of the hints in identification that they had assimilated on the previous day. The morning stop was a boggy hillside on the south-west side of Mynydd Eglwysilan, about 4½ miles north-west of Caerphilly, v. -c. 41 , specially chosen for the seven Sphagnum species that were known to occur there. The locality was unfortunately extremely exposed and therefore unpleasant, so although ten species of Sphagnum were recorded, including S. teres, the Secretary was not altogether popular. Much of his former popularity was restored, however, by his choice of pub for lunch where most of the party congregated at noon. This was the Rose and Crown, Eglwysilan, which greeted us with a roaring fire, an extremely jovial clientèle and some excellent sandwiches. Mr. Hill won affection from the locals by handsomely contributing to a raffle of items for charitable causes, to an auction of an article of clothing and to the ensuing jollification.

In the afternoon we looked at an old lead mine and the adjoining woodland on limestone south of Pen- how, Draethen Forest on the east side of Caerphilly (v.-c. 41). This was bryologically disappointing.

Thanks are due to all those who made the weekend a success, and especially to Mr. Hill and Dr. Smith. The Society’s Curator, Mr S. G. Harrison, had generously arranged for participants to visit the National Museum of Wales on the Saturday evening to see the B.B.S. Herbarium; to him we are very grateful.

A. R. Perry