Welsh botanists beaming after making an incredibly rare discovery

30th Jan 2012

Whilst exploring one of Wales’ most historic woodlands, Welsh conservationists made a surprising discovery. Hidden in the ancient grounds of Gregynog Hall in Powys, Plantlife experts have found an internationally important lichen that has never been seen in Wales before.

“The discovery of this lichen – which looks like elephant-grey paint has been applied to the tree - adds further importance to an already special area" says Plantlife lichen expert Ray Woods.

"We used a hair dye chemical to help identify it. When applied, the lichen turned an intense red brown, whereas similar looking but commoner lichens wouldn’t produce this colour change. Wales is globally important for lichens because of our mild, damp climate, amazingly varied landscape and lots of wonderful and internationally rare veteran trees. New discoveries like this only add to how special this country is for these extraordinary organisms”

The lichen found at the Great Wood has the scientific name of Enterographa sorediata which could be translated as the “floury-granuled internal-writing lichen”. On its surface there are patches of flour-like granules, whilst if you scratch the grey bits the black, scribble-like fruits are revealed. This lichen has never been found outside of the British Isles -it only survived at Gregynog because the landed gentry had a passion for parkland and the picturesque look of the knarled ancient trees on which lichen thrive.


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