Steve Terry is hoping to start a Beginners’ Botany Group based in Broadford. Anyone interested should contact Steve at Steve@skyeinfocus.co.uk
The talk seemed to go down well and the audience was surprisingly numerous. Local ceramicist Patricia Shone was able to tell me that the Cephalanthera longifolia (Narrow-leaved Helleborine) at Fairy Glen, Calligarry was still present in 2011. This is something I have looked for and in the absence of a precise location, failed to find. The distribution map now looks like this:
The remaining red dot is for a 1977 record at Armadale Castle. (Corrected from earlier version of this post.)
From Sandy Masson I learned that the Peltaria alliacea (Garlic Cress) at the top of the shore at Rubha Phòile was planted by an itinerant Irishman in, I think, 1988, and that it seeds up onto the area above.
Roger was inspired to send me further Aspen and Early-purple Orchid records today – but we still have no EPO record for Sleat since before the year 2000.
There seemed to be some enthusiasm to look out for plants not recorded recently in Sleat. I am, of course, always delighted to receive records or queries – or images for identification…..
Elsewhere, members of the Skye Botany Group are stirring, and apparently concentrating on aliens. Linda reports Cortaderia richardii (Early Pampas-grass) from a new 10km square near Greshornish so that the distribution map now looks like this:
Watch out – this pest may be heading your way…..
Meanwhile Steve reports Cotoneaster simonsii (Himalayan Cotoneaster) from NG52, the first record for that 10km square for forty years.
I have found yet another reference to aspen as being scarce on Skye. It isn’t. It is a common plant here:
Jim Bevan has sent me his database containing over 10,000 records, nearly all from the Small Isles and before the year 2000. Nearly 6000 of these are records he was involved with during the 1990s, either alone or more commonly with others. What makes them so valuable is that they are mostly at tetrad or better resolution – making a huge difference to the appearance of the history of recording in the Small Isles as shown below for Potentilla erecta (Tormentil).
When I combine the two sets of data there will be a lot of red dots behind the black ones.
Many of the remaining records in the database are from other published or unpublished sources and in many cases I already have them in some form. However, I am importing nearly all of them as in many cases there is more detail than I previously possessed. For example, a number of records I received from the BSBI Distributional Database for Hyskeir were anonymous and with a wide date range of 1987 to 1999. I now know them to have been made by D. Miller on 7/6/1992 and 30/4/1993.
Jim’s database contains records for 136 taxa that are included in the Rare Plants Register. In general these records are not going to significantly affect the distribution of plants recorded in the RPR, but it is now going to be much bigger task to update it than I had been planning. This may wait for next winter now.
Terry has been monitoring orchids on his Skye croft for some time and managing the land for their benefit. Orchid numbers have increased considerably and over the past six years he has been measuring and counting assiduously. He has sent me his results re Greater and Lesser butterfly-orchids and, to summarise a lot of material rather briefly, the data that he has gathered show the following statistically significant differences:
a) Lesser Butterfly-orchids (Platanthera bifolia) flower 7 – 9 days earlier than Greater Butterfly-orchids (P. chlorantha).
b) Height of the flower spike: Lesser average 17.2 cm, Greater average 25.3 cm
c) Width of the lower of the 2 basal leaves: Lesser average 2.4 cm, Greater average 3.2 cm
d) Spur length: Lesser average 1.6 cm, Greater average 2.5 cm
So overall, Greater Butterfly-orchids are more robust than Lesser Butterfly-orchids, a finding that is not always recognised in the literature, though is perhaps implicit in the vernacular names.
It remains a mystery as to whether they different species or as the molecular evidence purports, an example of morphological polymorphism.
Terry says “Morphology would suggest they are [different species], and my data shows that there are differences in the physical size of the two orchids as well as the pollinia positioning differences. But I am not so sure, and it may be that one is just a bigger version of the other, adapting to different habitat conditions.”
Excellent stuff and the work continues. He also gets some fine hybrid orchids. Much of the above is taken directly from Terrys’s notes – many thanks for sharing!
There has been a kestrel in the garden recently which is not a common sight in these parts. It was here in early December and is here again now – and probably was here in between – but we were away for a month.
Today and yesterday have been the first dry days since we got home and I have been doing some work in the garden. I notice that the Symphoricarpos x chenaultii (Pink Snowberry or Hybrid Coralberry) has quite a few stem galls on it that look similar to those often seen on Forsythia x intermedia. From what I can find, it is uncertain whether the Forsythia galls are crown galls caused by Agrobacterium tumefaciens or whether they are caused by a species of the fungus Phomopsis.
Later: Murdo confirms that this is the same as a specimen he showed at the autumn HBRG meeting – I couldn’t remember whether it was on this plant – but it was.
I lost my mobile a few weeks ago. I now have a new phone. The number is on my BSBI home page. If you think I should have your number on my mobile, please e-mail or text me.
Thanks, and a belated Happy New Year.
Picture from Florida:
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,600 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.