Aliens in Portree, Natives Elsewhere

October 19, 2014

The Phalaris canariensis (Canary-grass) is confirmed from Portree - presumably having arisen from birdseed. The possible Poa imbecilla (Weak Poa) is not, the referee saying “I think it may be Poa nemoralis but I am not sure as it is very small and immature.”

Jean-François has been sending me images of his trip to Skye in late September. One that caused me trouble for a while was this one:

P1050582 - Copie

Photo: J-F Olivier

But with a little help from my friends (Thanks Lynne & Carl) I have decided that it is Persicaria vivipara (Alpine Bistort) with unusually broad basal leaves.

More from Talisker Bay

October 19, 2014

I took a couple of videos of the sands on my camera:

Talsker Bay Sands 1

Talisker Bay Sands 2

They are unretouched – the sand really is black and the spume white.

Later: Julian tells me that he used the sands on an album cover Written in Sand.

“Twenty-plume Moth”

October 17, 2014

This fellow is on our DVD player right now:


Alucita hexadactyla

Keith, who identified it for me says “the Latin name gives a more accurate count than the English one”.

An example of a micro-moth attracted to a micro-light? Attracted to the light-emitting diodes, anyway.

Talisker Bay

October 9, 2014

Part of my Agrimony Tour was a visit to Talisker Bay. As well as some of the previously known but interesting plants I noticed Sycamore Tarspot (Rhytisma acerinum) around Talisker House, Ergot (Claviceps purpurea) on Lolium perenne (Perennial Rye-grass) near the shore and lots of galls on Rosa spinosissima (Burnet Rose) that are caused by the gall wasp Diplolepis spinosissimae:

Diplolepis spinosissimae

Diplolepis spinosissimae gall


Talk on Friday

October 6, 2014

Duncan talkSadly, I can’t make it.

Scottish Botany Meeting on 1st November

October 2, 2014

For those who do not know, you are very welcome to join the the 2014 BSBI / BSS* Scottish Annual Meeting to be held at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh on Saturday 1st November. There is a full and varied programme of talks and interesting exhibits and posters. Our main speaker is Professor Jonathan Silvertown, the man who developed iSpot, who will give a talk entitled “Re-inventing botany in a networked world”. Everyone with an interest in Scottish botany is very welcome. Click here for further information, booking forms and to pay online if you want dinner.

*Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland / Botanical Society of Scotland

Great Tussocks and New Centaury

October 2, 2014

As well as my own activities, Deirdre directed me to a new site for Carex paniculata (Greater Tussock-sedge) in an otherwise unexciting area of moor – a strong healthy group of large tussocks, better than anywhere else currently known on Skye.

Morag has found Centaurium erythraea (Common Centaury) by the Varragill River south of Portree – a long way from any previously known site.

Marion added a new site for Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort) near Greep.

Steve has sent in his September records including a new place for Agrimonia procera (Frgrant Agrimony) at Elgol:

Agrimonia procera + grasshopper Photo S. Terry

Agrimonia procera + froghopper           Photo S. Terry

Other notable finds include records for Drosera x obovata (Obovate Sundew (D. rotundifolia x anglica)), Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort), Myosotis scorpioides (Water Forget-me-not) – a plant much over-recorded in the past, Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed) – a plant much under-recorded until recently, and Utricularia intermedia sens. lat. (Intermediate Bladderwort).

The froghopper has been identified by Stephen M. as Philaenus spumarius, the bug whose nymphs produce cuckoo-spit.

Four Seasons on a Single Cliff

October 2, 2014

North side of Talisker Bay in October:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Agrimony Tour

October 2, 2014

Yesterday I visited the three remaining sites where I had recorded Agrimonia eupatoria (Agrimony) rather than Agrimonia procera (Fragrant Agrimony) and found only the latter. My records for the former will be removed and in the next edition of the Rare Plants Register I shall move A. eupatoria to the appendix listing excluded species as I do not think we have that species here.  Most of the older records are from one recorder and in some of those sites, where they are sufficiently localised to tell,  A. procera is present.

In the process I spotted a new site for Leymus arenarius (Lyme-grass) at Uig. Readers with a long memory may recall that about a year ago, e.g. here, I  was delighted to find this in a couple of places on Skye, the first Skye records for quite a long time.  This patch was only a few tens of metres from where I parked the car and must have been there last year when I parked in the same place – but I didn’t spot it.

Leymus arenarius at Uig

Leymus arenarius at Uig

Bearraraig River and Bay

September 29, 2014

Yesterday, I tried to find two 1980s Skye records for Equisetum variegatum (Variegated Horsetail) and failed. However, one site was being seriously sprayed by water blown from the Bearraraig waterfall which was in a full spate, and I couldn’t really see what I was doing – as soon as I cleaned my glasses they were covered in water again. Worth another try when the water is down and/or the wind is blowing from the north.

Bearraraig Waterfall - Spray

Bearraraig Waterfall – Spray

The pleasure of Bearraraig Waterfall is that one easily can walk behind itIMG_4181a

From behind the curtain

From behind the curtain

and there is a fine horizontal row of boulders exposed in the eroding sandstone:IMG_4184a

I obtained a couple of specimens of Agrimonia that I am virtually certain are A. procera but have sent them to Mike to double-check.

There was still the occasional Dryas octopetala (Mountain Avens) flower out which was a pleasant bonus at the end of September.

Dryas octopetala in flower

Dryas octopetala in flower


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.