Plant Records

November 27, 2021

November has seen a rash of new 10 km square plant records, mostly garden escapes/throwouts/plantings but also a few others such as:

Lemna minor (Duclweed)NG24Joanna
Anthriscus sylvestris (Cow Parsley)NG15 Seth
Polypodium interjectum (Intermediate Polypody)NG24Seth
Rosa canina (Dog-rose) NG46Me, Neil & Seth
Spergularia marina (Lesser Sea-spurrey)NG46Me, Neil & Seth
Polypodium interjectum (Intermediate Polypody)NG72Me, Nick & Seth
Lemna minor at Harlosh Photo: J Walmisley
Polypodium interjectum (Intermediate Polypody). This one from Raasay

Skye Botany Group – Ferns and Fern Allies

November 12, 2021

Skye Botany Group is undertaking a project with the Darwin Tree of Life project. We will be recording Polypodium (Polypody) species and a hybrid (we hope) plus two species of Ophioglossum (Adder’s-tongues). On Wednesday we had a day with pteridologist James Merryweather to look at his local polypodies and also Dryopteris species on the nearby Scottish mainland, including D. lacunosa.

We were able to see Polypodium interjectum (Intermediate Polypody), P. vulgare (Polypody) and their hybrid P. x mantoniae.

Later: Having examined the spores microscopically, we are not certain that we saw the hybrid.

Polypodium x mantoniae (Maybe)

There are only two records of the hybrid in VC104, one on Rum that we were unable to confirm during the Flora of Rum project and one near Struan on Skye. We feel there must be more and expect that our project will allow us to assess this properly.

The principal objectives regarding Ophoioglossum are to see if it can be found on Skye north of Portree and to seek more sites for O. azoricum. The latter is quite widespread on Raasay but only four sites are known on Skye of which three are on the north coast of Sleat.

New Plants

November 12, 2021

I produced a poster for the Scottish Botanists’ Conference about plants new to vice-county 104 in 2021. I had it all prepared with thirteen species when, four days before the conference, Seth found Borago officinalis (Borage) in Broadford, making fourteen. (There is a dot on the Atlas 2000 maps for Borage on Rum, but this is an error.)

Three days after the Conference I spotted Cyperus longus (Galingale) spreading madly near a pond at Skeabost Hotel. Clearly, this will have been planted originally – and it is in hotel grounds – but I have added it to the vice-county list as it could spread further and this is the site where Crassula helmsii (New Zealand Pigmyweed) was recorded by the Scottish Loch Survey team in 1989 (and by others more recently).

Poor picture as I only had my phone with me:

Cyperus longus (Galingale) at Skeabost

Of the fifteen additions, only one is a Scottish native – Logfia (previously Filago) minima (Small Cudweed).

More Records

October 29, 2021

Neil on Eigg has sent me images of Ambrosia artemisiifolia (Ragweed) that has appeared in his garden, perhaps from birdseed. New to VC104.

Ambrosia artemisiifolia (Ragweed) Image: N Robertson

Dave Gibbs’ 2021 Skye hawkweed determinations have been confirmed by David McCosh. Of greatest interest was Hieracium subrude (Tain Hawkweed) for which there were just two old sites, one at Uig where Dave re-found it, last recorded in 1969, and one near Knock in Sleat where it was last recorded in 1970. His find of Hieracium praesigne (Distinguished Hawkweed) in NG62 is the fifth VC record during 2016-2021 and the fifth 10 km square for it!  There is only one earlier record. There are now a total of twelve new hectad records for Hieracium species in 2021.

Meanwhile at home, my first moth trap of this October, and quite possibly the last, produced 10 moths including two December Moths and two Feathered Thorns, which was nice.

Catch-up Time

October 20, 2021

I have been away for two and a half weeks and there are a number of plant-related things that I have not got round to recording here. Firstly, Seth found Gentiana asclepiadea (Willow Gentian) growing on the roadside near Dunvegan, obviously a garden escape/throw-out but flourishing and new to the vice-county.

Gentiana asclepiadea

Seth also found a Pulmonaria in Portree which turns out to be Pulmonaria saccharata (Bethlehem-sage), also new to VC 104. This is distinguished from P. officinalis (Lungwort) by the “basal leaves being elliptic, acuminate, each tapered gradually at base to form winged stalks; silvery markings often merging into larger patches” according to the European Garden Flora.

Pulmonaria saccharata (Bethlehem-sage)

Also in Portree, Seth spotted Tropaeolum majus (Nasturtium), only the second vice-county record. The first was on Raasay a few years ago – it didn’t reappear for a second year.

Tropaeolum majus (Nasturtium)

Joanna has sent in her July/August records from Portree for the Urban Flora Project, amongst which were Juniperus virginiana (Virginian Juniper), new to the vice-county and probably planted by the roadside at Sluggans, and Hordeum vulgare (Six-rowed Barley), only the second vice-county record.

I checked up on a record from iRecord for Aruncus dioicus (Buck’s-beard) in Portree and found it this time, having failed on a previous attempt. It has just about escaped from a garden but I am not sure that I would have recorded it as it is moot whether it is in the wild. However, as it is in a public database, I have added it to the VC 104 list.

Aruncus dioicus (Buck’s-beard)

Finally, does anyone recognise this place, please?

Marram Site

The plant in the foreground is supposedly Marram and the site is given as NG61. Coastal areas in NG61 are Camus Croise and the north (Heaste) and south (Drumfearn) shores of Loch Eishort. Folks living in these areas do not recognise it, so I am stuck. NG61 would be new for Marram.

Later: Amazingly, I have managed to contact the recorder who went by the sobriquet of “Growing Green Spaces”. It turns out to have been on the Scottish mainland in NM69.

Skye Botany Group at Brothers’ Point

September 23, 2021

A couple of days ago, we went to Brother’s Point on Skye to try and find Gentianella campestris (Field Gentian), last seen there in 1964 and last seen in the 10 km square NG56 in 1985. In this we succeeded though only one plant was found and that, unsurprisingly by late September, was somewhat past its prime.

We took a break from botany to check out the dinosaur footprints and the putative quernstone quarry, finding large numbers of Blue-rayed Limpets on the kelp, in passing.

We added four taxa to the NG56 list: Atriplex glabriuscula (Babington’s Orache), Atriplex prostrata (Spear-leaved Orache), Polygonum aviculare s.s. (Knotgrass), though there were records for P. aviculare agg. (1997) and P. depressum (previously P. arenastrum) (2019) and Spergularia marina (Lesser Sea-spurrey).

Polygonum aviculare on a promontory at Brothers’ Point

As well as the gentian, the following had not been recorded in NG56 since before 2000: Carex lepidocarpa (Long-stalked Yellow-sedge) (1997), Hydrocotyle vulgaris (Marsh Pennywort) (1997), Isolepis setacea (Bristle Club-rush) (1999) and Neottia ovata (Common Twayblade) (1958).

We also added Ervilia (Vicia) sylvatica (Wood Vetch) to one of the two tetrads we looked at, which is not common on Skye.

Both here and at Borve (see previous post) and also in the garden at home there were lots of Nettle-taps about.


A Couple of Hours near Borve

September 23, 2021

I had to get something checked by Highland Motors at Borve and so I was able to spend a couple of hours wandering along the road, then along the Lòn na h-Iolainn and back across the bog, all in the 1 km square NG4447.

This turned out to be unexpectedly good botanically with Carex hostiana x demissa, the hybrid between Tawny Sedge and Common Yellow-sedge and Impatiens glandulifera (Indian Balsam) both new to the 10 km square NG44. Additionally, I found a single plant of Artemisia vulgaris (Mugwort), a locally uncommon plant for which there was previously an old but undated and unlocalised record in NG44. Furthermore, there was Alnus cordata (Italian Alder) in only the fourth monad in VC104 and I made only the second vice-county record for Erythranthe (previously Mimulus) x burnetii (Coppery Monkeyflower). I made the first record for this in 2013 about two-thirds of a kilometre away in a different tetrad and on a different watercourse.

I also spotted the rust fungus Coleosporium tussilaginis on Tussilago farfara (Colt’s-foot). This fungus produces tubules containing rust spores on pine needles and later rust pustules on the leaves of Colt’’s-foot, Butterbur and other species.

Coleosporium tussilaginis on Tussilago farfara

Aphids & Hawkweeds

September 12, 2021

Prompted by Neil’s observations on Skye, I went looking for a couple of aphid species here on Raasay. I had to walk all of 200 metres from my front gate to find both:

Yarrow Aphid (Macrosiphoniella millefolii) on Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) The pink ones are males.
Large Knapweed Aphids (Uroleucon jaceae) on Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) The black cauda (“tails”) and tibiae (“calves”) distinguish it from Uroleucon jaceicola

My second 2021 batch of Hieracium (Hawkweed) specimens has been determined and it turns out that I had collected lots of the locally common H. triviale (Common Hawkweed) and H. shoolbredii (Shoolbred’s Hawkweed). At least the distribution maps for these are filling out, with these two species accounting for three new 10 km square records this year.

However, I also found H. strictiforme (Strict Hawkweed) near Flodigarry, only the second post-1999 record in the vice-county and Neil took me to see a plant that he found last year galled by the cynipid wasp Aulacidea hiercii. This turns out to be H. subcrocatum (Dark-styled Hawkweed), also only the second post-1999 record in the vice-county.

Aulacidea hiercii galls on Hieracium subcrocatum (Dark-styled Hawkweed)

Aquatics & Caterpillars

September 10, 2021

A sub-group of Skye Botany Group went to Loch Connan and Loch Niarsco, principally to look for Potamogeton berchtoldii (Small Pondweed), which had been recorded in the NCC Loch Survey in 1989 but not since in the 10 km square NG34. We succeeded in Loch Connan, but not in Loch Niarsco:

Potamogeton berchtoldii (Small Pondweed)

We found Potamogeton alpinus (Red Pondweed) at an old site in Loch Niarsco and also this unusual looking Sparganium that is probably the S. emersum x S. angustifolium hybrid, Sparganium x diversifolium, though a specimen has been sent for expert determination. This would be new to VC104. Later: Determined as most likely diminutive S. emersum – though there was a big patch like this. Disappointing.

On the shore I spotted some leaf mines on Caltha palustris (Marsh-marigold) which Seth determined as being caused by Phytomyza calthophila. This was confirmed by the national scheme recorder as a first for the Inner Hebrides.

And, for something different, recent moth larvae from the garden:

From the top: Angle Shades, Bright-line Brown-eye, Brimstone Moth and Knot Grass

New Moths

September 1, 2021

A moth trap at home a few days ago yielded five moths I haven’t had here before:

Thanks to Keith and Mark for some of the identifications. So far this year I have added 31 moths to my list of adult moths found here in West Suisnish, making a running total of 232.