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Llanymynech Rocks

Llanymynech Rocks Nature Reserve - Flora

The flora of any region depends mainly on the underlying rock.  Llanymynech hill, the most south-easterly of the chain of carboniferous limestone outcrops which stretch from Anglesey and the Great Orm at Llandudno, has long been regarded as an area of scientific interest, chiefly on account of the flora of its calcareous grasslands and woodlands.

The Llanymynech Rocks Nature Reserve, occupying six acres of the disused quarry floor was formed in 1972 to afford protection to a small part of this special environment.  Among the plants which grow here and in hardly any other part of Montgomeryshire are: 

  • Anacamptis pyramidalis (Pyramidal Orchid),
  • Arabis Hirsuta (Hairy Rock-cress),
  • Blackstonia perfoliata (Yellow wort),
  • Calamintha ascendens (Common Calamint),
  • Catapodium rigidum (Fern grass),
  • Centranthus ruber (Red Valerian),
  • Erigeron acer (Blue Fleabane),
  • Gentianella amarella (Autumn Felwort),
  • Gymadenia conopsea (Fragrant Orchid),
  • Ophrys apifera (Bee Orchid),
  • Poa compressa (Flattened Meadow grass),
  • Poterium sanguisorba (Salad Burnet),
  • Saxifraga tridactylites (Rue-leaved Saxifrage),
  • Senecio erucufolius (Hoary Ragwort),
  • Spiranthes spiralis (Autumn Lady’s-tresses)
  • and Viola hirta (hairy Violet)

These rarer plants could be smothered by the Clematis vitalba (Traveller’s-joy) which is prolific and needs continual management to maintain a suitable habitat for the plants on the reserve.

On the hill itself are several other plants which are attractive to the botanist.  Near Offa’s Dyke boundary wall grow:

  • Cynoglossum officinale (Hound’s-tongue),
  • Malva neglecta (Dwarf Mallow),
  • Sherardia arvensis (Field Madder),
  • Stellaria pallida (Little Chickweed)
  • and Torilis nodosa (Knotted Hedge-parsley)

while on other parts of the hill the short turf provides a suitable habitat for:

  • Cerastium atrovirens (Sea Mouse-ear),
  • Cerastium semidecandrum (Little Mouse-ear),
  • Erodium cicutarium (Common Storks’s-bill),
  • Geranium pusillum (Small flowered Crane’s-bill),
  • Helianthemum chamaecistus (Rock-rose),
  • Linim catharticum (Fairy Flax),
  • Potentilla tabernaemontani (Spring Cinquefoil),
  • Ranunculus parviflorus (Small-flowered Buttercup),
  • and Thymus drucei (Wild Thyme).

On the screes and old pastures are other calcicoles like:

  • Briza media (Quaking-grass),
  • Carlina vulgarise (Carline Thistle),
  • Centaurium erythraea (Common Centaury),
  • Daucus carota (Wild Carrot),
  • Genista tinctoria (Dyer’s Greenweed),
  • Pimpinella saxifraga (Burnett Saxifrage),
  • Primula veris (Cowslip),
  • Reseda luteola (Weld),
  • Scabiosa columbaria (Small Scabious),
  • and Sedum album (White Stonecrop).

The woods and copses which have been left undisturbed include such species as:

  • Daphne Laureola (Spurglaurel),
  • Euonymus europaeus (Spindle),
  • Sorbus aria (Common Whitebeam),
  • Taxus bachata (Yew),
  • Thelycrania sanguinea (Dogwood),
  • and Tilia cordata (Small-leaved Lime).

In the shade of the woodland may be found:

  • Allium ursinum (Ramsons),
  • Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter’s-nightshade),
  • Epipactis helleborine (Broad-leaved Helleborine),
  • Galium oderatum (Woodruff),
  • Helleborus foetidus (Stinking Hellebore),
  • Listera ovata (Common Twayblade),
  • Paris quadrifolia (Herb Paris)
  • and Sanicula europaea (Sanicle).

Many lanes and trackways cross the area, partly due to the industrial past and also as access to houses built on the hillsides.  These give sheltered hedge banks with a rich flora including:

  • Clinopodium vulgare (Wild Basil),
  • Cruciata laevipes (Crosswort),
  • Geranium lucidum (Shining Crane’s-bill),
  • Geranium pyrenaicum (Hedgerow Crane’s-bill),
  • Lathyrus montanus (Bitter Vetch),
  • Origanum vulgare (Marjoram),
  • Oxalis acetosella (Wood-sorrel),
  • Pentaglottis sempervirens (Green Alkanet),
  • Ranunculus auricomus (Goldilocks Buttercup),
  • Teucrium scorodonia (Wood Sage),
  • Verbena officinalis (Verain),
  • and Viola species.

Some wayside plants may originally have proved to be too invasive in gardens and have been thrown out, but are now well established in the wild.  Among these are Petasites hybridus (Winter heliotrope),  produces its fragrant flowers as early as November and the dainty blue Veronica filiformis (Slender Speedwell).

Water-loving plants find a suitable habitat in the River Vyrnwy which flows through the village and the Shropshire Union Canal and also beside the brooks where Salix (Willows) and Alnus glutinosa (Alder) thrive.  In such moist places, either in the water or on the marshy ground many plants are found such as:

  • Alisma plantago (Water Plantain),
  • Cardaria amara (Large Bitter cress),
  • Filipendula ulmaria (Meadowsweet),
  • Impatiens glandulifera (Policeman’s Helment),
  • Luronium natans (Floating Water Plantain),
  • Lycopus europaeus (Gipsywort),
  • Mimulus guttatus (Monkey-flower),
  • Ranunculus sceleratus (Celery-leaved Buttercup),
  • Rumex hydrolapathum (Water Dock),
  • Saponaria officinalis (Soapwort),
  • Scutellaria galericulata (Skullcap),
  • and Veronica Beccabunga (Brooklime).

In addition many plants of differing geographical distributions reach this central part of the country.  For example:

  • Antennaria dioica (Cat’s-foot ),
  • and Myrrhis odorata (Sweet Cicely)

are commoner in the North

  • Cirsium acaule (Stemless Thistle),
  • Sorbus aria (Whitebeam),
  • and Viscum album (Mistletoe),

in the South

  • Daphne laureola (Spurge Laurel),

in the East and

  • Sedum anglicism (English Stonecrop),
  • Ulex gallii (Western Gorse),
  • and Umbilicus rupestris (Navelwort),

in the West.

Many ferns such as:

  • Asplenium adiantum-nigrum (Black Spleenwort),
  • Asplenium ruta-muraria (Wall-rue),
  • Asplenium trichomanes (Maidenhair Spleenwort),
  • and Polypodium vulgare (Polypody)

grow among the rocks in natural habitats as well as in man-made mortared walls.

  • Dryopteris dilatata (Broad Buckler-fern),
  • Dryopteris filix-mas (Male-fern),
  • and Pteridium aquilinum (Bracken)

are widespread, but others like:

  • Phyllitis scolopendrium (Hart’s-tongue),
  • and Polystichum aculaetum (Hard Shield Fern),

need a base rich substrate,

  • Dryopteris pseudomas (Scaly Male Fern),

heavier soils and:

  • Athyrium filix-femina (Lady Fern),

wetter places, so are in more restricted situations.

Some plants recorded in Leighton’s Flora of Shropshire (1841), still survive in 1983.  Fore example Sambucus ebulus (Dwarf Elder or Danewort) was recorded by J. F. M. Dovaston ‘growing near Llanymynech’ and this can still be seen on the verge of the main Welshpool road south of Llanymynech river bridge.

Two other plants recorded by J. F. M. Dovaston and still to be found are ‘Inula helenium (Elecampane) at Llwyntidman and Saxifraga tridactylites (Rue-leaved Saxifrage) – Llanymynech churchyard wall, Shamber Wen’.

The wonderful variety of the flora in this area need to be preserved and it is hoped that the different habitats may be maintained, so that as many species as possible will be flourishing in future years.

E. Doris Pugh (1987)