Tuesday, 26 March 2013


The sand dunes at Ynyslas were bleak and wintry when I visited yesterday. The easterly wind whipped across the flat plain of Cors Fochno and down the Afon Dyfi from the snow covered hills to the east. The bus dropped me at the concrete shack 'Ynyslas Turn' and I walked the remaining mile toward the dunes. A row of small grey bungalows interspersed with misplaced two-story goliaths protected me from the worst of the wind. These soon petered out giving way to an uninviting caravan site with a hopeful advertisement for Sunday dinner. The dune slacks were completely flooded condemning my plans to search for the minute dune slack liverwort Petalophyllum ralfsii. I headed toward the bare sand of the rabbit-scrapes to search for winter annuals. 

Among the russet patches of Syntrichia ruralis subsp. ruraliformis there were many plants of the Little Mouse-ear, Cerastium semidecandrum distinguished from the few plants of Sea Mouse-ear, Cerastium diffusum by the scarious tips to the bracts that are just visible in the picture below.             

Cerastium semidecandrum, Ynyslas, SN 60889401, March 2013

Moving deeper into the dunes I encountered an abundance of  Lesser Chickweed, Stellaria pallida crawling around on the bare sand. This small diploid relative of the Chickweed, Stellaria media is frequent on sandy ground around most of the British coasts as can be seen from the distribution map. This species is mostly cleistogamous meaning that each flower pollinates itself without opening. 

Stellaria pallida, Ynyslas, SN 60889401, March 2013

Moving back to the margins of the flooded slacks the creeping sand dune form of the Variegated Horsetail, Equisetum variegatum was abundant its tough, white banded stalks topped by small apiculate cones. 

Equisetum variegatum, Ynyslas,
SN 60889401, March 2013

Nearing the deserted visitor centre the signs of rabbit activity peaked on a small dune riddled with burrows. Among the mess of loose sandy warrens were the young leaves of Houndstongue, Cynoglossum officinale. This mainly southern species has its only Cardiganshire station at Ynyslas.

Cynoglossum officinale, Ynyslas,
SN 60889401, March 2013

I took a few steps out on to the estuarine sands but was rebuffed by clouds of airborne sand on its way to catch among the Marram. Defeated by sand and wind, I cut my visit short.   

Verkleij, J. A. C., AM de Boer, and T. F. Lugtenborg. "On the ecogenetics of Stellaria media(L.) Vill. and Stellaria pallida (Dum.) pire from abandoned arable field." Oecologia 46.3 (1980): 354-359.

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