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Investigations ::> botanical survey

Cwrt Farm, Pembrey


Kath and Richard Pryce, members of the Llanelli Naturalists and County Plant Recorders, joined the first scrub-clearance work-party at Cwrt Farm on 27th March in order to take an early spring look at the wild-plants growing around, over and inside the buildings.  Nobody can fail to notice the extensive growths of Ivy which clothe the old walls and which during conservation work will need to be removed but, in addition to this prolific and damaging colonist, attractive early-flowering woodland-edge plants were coming into flower amongst the buildings including Lesser Celandine, Lords and Ladies, Garlic-mustard, Red Campion, Herb Robert, Common Vetch and Ivy-leaved Speedwell.  Ferns were also frequent in the damp, shady areas between the buildings and under the large Ash and Beech trees and included Soft Shield-fern, Scaly Male-fern and Hart’s-tongue.  Robust rosettes of Alexanders were sprouting in open areas and a few plants of Wall Pennywort were seen growing on a damp bank with more on the stone barn which also supported Bittersweet and Maidenhair Spleenwort, a diminutive fern which characteristically grows in the mortar of old walls.


But the highlight of the botanists’ day was undoubtedly the discovery of Southern Polypody fern growing on Elder branches within the barn: several robust, fertile plants with their characteristic triangular fronds and pointed pinnae, the basal ones pointing upwards at 45O to the plane of the rest of the frond.  Viewing the barn from the Mucky Lane side, more polypody plants were seen high-up, densely clothing one or two of the battlements but these were more desiccated and stressed specimens.  The old house was then examined and several more plants were found growing on fallen rafters within the roof-less buildings and on stone walls in the internal courtyard.  This is the second site for this species in the O.S. grid square SN40 (the other being Kidwelly town walls and Castle!) and only the sixteenth record for Carmarthenshire.  Most other records from the county are of plants growing on old walls although there are small concentrations on the Old Red sandstone cliffs around Laugharne and Llanstephan.


Signs of Dormice have recently been recorded in the dense bramble thickets and hedgerows in the area and, at Cwrt, scrub will only be removed at the appropriate time of year to ensure that these rare, protected animals, as well as nesting birds, are not disturbed.


Kath and Richard plan to revisit Cwrt later in the season to record the summer plants as they mature.