Manor Wood, the Narth, Monmouthshire, this is just south of Monmouth but quite high up on the ridge which runs down towards Trellech and beyond.
I visited this wood on Monday 4th March 2019, I was in fact on my way back from an area a bit further over called Cwmcarvan and I had been there in my continuing search for the Alternate leaved Saxifrage. Suffice it to say I found lots of Opposite leaved Saxifrage in all the places I visited but no Alternate leaved. Just to put you in the picture, these are very small plants, they like wet boggy conditions and are normally found in shady places. They are quite small and so when you spot a group of them you normally can not determine the arrangement of the leave (opposite or alternate) without going over to them, through the wet boggy ground, bending down and carefully examining them. For me this also involves getting my glasses out and putting them on. Now I have not been counting but I would certainly say I have investigated in this way hundreds of these plants possibly as many as a thousand! and every time they have been Opposite leaved. I am even beginning to doubt the existence of the Alternate leaved species. I have though looked it up on the internet and there are quite a few photos so…..OK it is out there. It does have other subtle difference to the Opposite leaved species, the yellow flowers are slightly bigger and slightly more yellow, also the leaves immediately surrounding the leaves have a bit of a yellow hue and it is a slightly more robust plant. I have been told that the two species often grow intermingled together so you just have to get down and check them out which is what I have been doing. There were lots of Opposite leaved Saxifrages in Manor Wood.
However its not all about the saxifrages, though you might think so from my recent obsessive searches….. I can promise they are coming to an end. I am tiring of tottering about in wet boggy patches of woods. This wood, Manor wood is quite beautiful, it has several streams running down through it and lots of boulders covered with various mosses and liverworts. There are little waterfalls and I did see a Great spotted Woodpecker and a pair of Bullfinches.
For me the big bonus of this walk was to find some Pellia epiphylla which was producing the sporophytes. Now if this is a bit gobbledygook to you then have a look at my page on the early evolution of land plants. But to briefly put you in the picture, Pellia is a type of liverwort which are the most primitive of land plants, related to mosses but on the rung of the ladder below them. They can reproduce by simply spreading but also occasionally with spores. You rarely see the spore production, but on a rock in one of the streams there was lots of Pellia and it was producing lots of spores. Finally if you are of a certain generation and you did ‘A’ level Botany then one of the key plants you would have studied was Pellia epiphylla. Here it is.
And just in case you are not so impressed with this little plant and I can’t think why not, then here is a final photo of the wood in general.