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Nature in Wales

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N.s. Vol. 5, no. 1/2 1986

The growth and survival of Aconitum anglicum (Monkshood) at Gwern Rhyd Nature Reserve, South Glamorgan

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Miles, P. M. 1978. Blomer's Rivulet, Discoloxia blomeri (Curtis)
(Lepidoptera, Geometridae) and Dutch Elm Disease,
Ceratocystis ulmi Buism. Entomologist's Gazette 29,43-46.
Philip M. Miles, Werndeg, Cnwch Coch, near Aberystwyth, Dyfed SY23 4LQ
The Growth and Survival of Aconitum anglicum (Monkshood) at
Gwern Rhyd Nature Reserve, South Glamorgan
The Gwern Rhyd Nature Reserve (ST. 099769) is
situated in the community of St George's Super Ely
with St Brides. It is bounded by the river and
railway on its southern flank, by the lane linking St
George's and St Brides to the east and by the
bridlepath to Peterston Super Ely to the north. The
western extremity coincides with the edge of the
woodland. The reserve is at the centre of the Ely
Valley SSSI whose main feature is the occurrence of
the Monkshood (Aconitum anglicum).
Site Description
For the most part the Reserve consists of damp
woodland, the most common species being Alder
(Alnus glutinosa). Other tree species include Oak
(Quercus pedunculata), Ash (Fraxinus excelsior),
European Larch (Larix europaea), Sycamore (Acer
pseudoplatanus), Maple (Acer campestre), Elm
(Ulmus sp.), Holly (Ilex aquifolium). Small trees
and shrubs include Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea),
Spindle (Euonymus europaea), Wild current (Ribes
sp.), Hazel (Coryllus avellana), Elder (Sambucus
nigra), Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), Crab (Malus
pumila), Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). The
herbaceous layer includes Mercury (Mercurialis
perennis), Yellow archangel (Galeobdolon luteum),
Ivy (Hedera helix), Jewel weed (Impatiens
capensis), Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens
glandulifera), Hemlock water dropwort (Oenanthe
crocata), Monkshood (Aconitum napellus), Flag
(Iris pseudacorus), Garlic (Allium ursinum), Golden
Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium), and a
single plant of Bellflower (Campanula latifolia), was
found in 1981.
There are two smaller areas within the reserve: (a)
Recently coppiced alders; (b) A clearing.
Miles, P. M. 1981. Heterocera of Dyfi National Nature
Reserve- Y nyslas Dunes, Cardiganshire, Wales, 1974-1978.
Entomologist's mon. Mag. 116, (1980) 246-252.
R. M. Baker
The Aconitum is present in the coppiced area, but
absent from the clearing. The clearing is undergoing
secondary succession and includes sub-areas
dominated by: (a) Reed (Phragmites communis); (b)
Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa); (c) Bracken (Pteridium
aquifolium); (d) Bramble (Rubus fruticosa agg.); (e)
Mixed wetland vegetation (Iris pseudacorus),
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), Balsam
(Impatiens glandulifera), Codlins and Cream
(Epilobium hirsutum); (f) Coarse grasses.
Numerous trees and bushes of the following species
have been planted into the clearing: sycamore (Acer
pseudoplananus) in 1975, and in 1981, Hornbeam
(Carpinus betulus), Guelder Rose (Viburnum
opulus), Spindle (Euonymus europaea), Lime (Tilia
platyphylla), and Maple (Acer campestra). The
clearing also includes self sown Sallows (Salix
atrocinerea), and an overgrown hedge. There is an
Osier (Salix viminalis) on the river bank. That the
area represents semi-natural as opposed to truly
natural woodland is shown by the presence of a few
individual Larch (Larix europaea) in the woodland,
and a Lilac (Syringa vulgaris); in the hedge flanking
the Bridlepath.
Soils and drainage. The whole area is underlain by
glacio-fluvial deposits, in this case the stony, pebbly
phase being most common. However, in most parts
of the reserve these deposits are overlain with silty
peats which are highly retentive of moisture.
Adjacent to the river are natural sand levees. The
water table is high on the peaty areas even after
weeks of drought and the streams in the reserve did
not dry up even in the droughts of 1976 and 1984.
The pH readings are in the range of 6.5-7.0.
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