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Title: Ysbryd y Mwynwyr - Spirit of the Miners
OchreWheelhouse, Bryn yr ArianWaterwheel at Llywernog

Biological Information

Many of the abandoned metal mines in Mid Wales support rare and interesting wildlife. Lead, zinc and copper minerals weather to produce chemicals toxic to most plants and fungi. Some species have evolved to cope with these harsh conditions. Common bent grass has heavy metal resistant forms and is often an early colonist of mine tips.
Sea Campion

The sea campion, normally a plant of exposed sea cliffs, also tolerates metals and makes a rare inland home on old mine sites.

Porpidia Macrocarpa (Lichen)

One group of fungi have developed a special beneficial relationship with algae to form lichens. A number of lichen species collectively described as metallophytes, are able to grow on rock, soil and old mine buildings rich in heavy metals. They even absorb the metals but quickly trap them in complex compounds where they cause no harm. Lichens colour the rocks on many mine sites and Ceredigion has some of the most interesting metallophyte lichens in western Europe.
Forked Spleenwort

Many species of fern grow on the rocks, old walls and buildings, some making use of the higher pH of lime mortar. The largest known population in Britain of the rare fern, Forked Spleenwort, is found about the metal mines of west Wales with Cwmsymlog mine supporting a fine population.

Hamatocaulis Vernicosus (Upland Moss)

A tiny rare moss, Lead Moss Ditrichum plumbicola occurs on several Ceredigion mines. It is found only in Britain and Germany where it is restricted to lead-bearing spoil. Its name comes from the Latin 'plumbum' meaning lead.

A number of the mines have been designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, which gives them legal protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act as substituted by Schedule 9 to the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

More information can be found on the Countryside Council for Wales' website.
Thank you to CCW for the use of the photographs. For other images visit ARKive