November 3, 2015
When Rita and I were walking in Lancashire a couple of weeks ago, we noticed that some ash tress had masses of keys on them whiilst others had none. I had to admit that I didn’t know off the top of my head whether ash is dioecious (separate male and female plants). After a little research it turned out to be more complicated than I had expected. Male or female trees are common, but trees can also change sex from season to season, or even have flowers of different sexes on the same branch.
This came back to me when I received this news item:
“After 5,000 years, Britain’s Fortingall Yew is turning female”
You can read about it from the link but interestingly, author Max Cleman says “yews, and many other conifers that have seperate sexes, have been observed to switch sex. Normally this switch occurs on part of the crown rather than the entire tree changing sex. In the Fortingall Yew it seems that one small branch in the outer part of the crown has switched and now behaves as female.”
November 3, 2015
On Sunday Frances and I found a Red Admiral butterfly in the middle of the moor in perfect condition. Today the borage is covered in honey bees and bumblebees and there are bluebottles sunning themselves on the house in the sun.
The Impatiens is still flowering well
Impatiens in the Garden
and we are still harvesting soft fruit:
Brambles & Raspberries
When I got home on Saturday evening after two weeks away there was an Angle Shades moth in the garage
Angle Shades in garage
and on the lawn there are these fungi that I have yet to try to identify but they look like a Coprinus, I think.
The old stems on the fennel have a small fungus which I suspect is Heterosphaeria patella which also grows on another umbelliferous plant, Angelica sylvestris. See post from 2013.
October 24, 2015
Dave Genney has kindly looked microscopically at spores and hairs from the eyelash fungus from the Loch Duagrich area and found it not to be the common eyelash but rather one with no common name currently, Scutellinia trechispora, for which there appears to be very few Scottish records.
Meanwhile, this bracket fungus grew on a tree trunk that had washed up on the shore last Christmas. Liz Holden tells me it is a Ganoderma, probably G. australe (Southern Bracket), but it is too immature to determine with certainty as it had no spores. G. australe is the only Ganoderma recorded on Skye – and there is no record for Raasay.
Ganoderma sp. from above
Ganoderma sp. from below
I may try to bring one to maturity, the key thing being not to use the log it is on for firewood.
October 13, 2015
Yesterday I went to Loch Niarsco to update Elatine hexandra (Six-stamened Waterwort) and Subularia aquatica (Awlwort) records – successfully. I also found Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed) but no sign of the Iris pseudacorus (Yellow Iris) recorded there by the NCC Loch Survey in 1989, which leaves me a little suspicious. I ended up trying to swim in the bog to inspect the Sparganium, only to find another patch within easy reach a few minutes later.
Overall I recorded 142 species in NG34Y, increasing the tetrad count from 49 to 156 and one record, for Potentilla sterilis (Barren Strawberry), was the first record in NG34 since 1995.
A lot of the washed-up Isoetes lacustris (Quillwort) was unusually curled:
There were Black Darters (Sympetrum danae) and larvae of Northern Eggar and Broom Moth.
On the way I went to look for Mentha x verticillata (Whorled Mint) beside the River Varragill south of Portree (successfully) and by the River Snizort near Skeabost Bridge (unsuccessfully). The problem with the latter site was that both parents were present, Mentha aquatica (Water Mint) in huge quantities, Mentha arvensis (Corn Mint) rather less so, making it very hard to find any hybrid plants – especially when it was all quite grazed. The R. Snizort did have a nice Whooper Swan on it:
I collected a couple of Mentha specimens from Portree and Sligachan. One of these populations has been recorded as Mentha x rotundifolia (M. longifolia x suaveolens) in the past and they could both well be that, but I find the far end of Stace’s Mentha key where this plant keys out to be unusable, so I shall send specimens away to the Mentha referee.
October 8, 2015
I went to Loch Eadar dà Bhaile this morning because I thought I might find some burdock there. I didn’t, but I did find Mentha x verticillata (Whorled Mint (M. aquatica x arvensis)) which is the first record for Raasay and only the second post-2000 record for the vice-county. It looks like a robust version of M. arvensis (Corn Mint)
Mentha x verticillata
Mentha x verticillata specimen
but the calyx is longer with narrowly triangular to subulate teeth rather than short (up to 2.5mm) with triangular teeth no more than 0.5mm in the case of M. arvensis.
Mentha x verticillata calyx
I continued to Glam in search of Burdock and there I found a couple of plants:
Arctium at Glam (1)
Arctium at Glam (2)
We shall see what Mike W makes of these. Unfortunately there were no basal leaves to check the hollowness or otherwise of the petiole. Later: Mike says this too is Artium minus subsp. pubens.
Two grasses that have probably come from forage were looking remarkably good for October. Triticum aestivum (Bread Wheat), although a first for Raasay outside cultivation, is unsurprising from such a source.
but Anisantha sterilis (Barren Brome) was unexpected, with the last Raasay record being 80 years ago and the last vice-county record being in 1961.
It may be well into October but at Loch Eadar dà Bhaile there were dragonflies flying – I spotted several Common Hawkers (Aeshna juncea) and one Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum).
October 5, 2015
Patterns of Flora has been shortlisted in the Placemaking category of the prestigious Arts & Business Scotland Awards 2015. In this category the award goes to a partnership that has strategically shaped the cultural activities in a particular geographical area or has contributed to an increase in cultural tourism in that area.
There is some serious competition left but this is great news for Raasay!
October 2, 2015
I know there are a few 2015 vascular plant records still to come, but I don’t suppose we will make a further 1300 records to match 2014. However, given the weather this year, that is a great effort all round. Many thanks to all who have contributed.
October 2, 2015
Yesterday I had a quick look at Fiskavaig Bay for Carex arenaria (Sand Sedge) last recorded there in 1977, but I failed. The area inland from the bay has the most Impatiens glandulifera (Indian/Himalyan Balsam) in the vice-county but I am not sure whether the native invasive species or the non-native invasive species is winning:
Balsam v Bracken
I collected a specimen of Arctium minus agg. (a Burdock) for determination. We have called all of ours A. nemorosum (Wood Burdock) but this is worth revisiting. Later: Mike Wilcox has determined this plant as A. minus ssp. pubens as “The heads are single, largely racemose, c. 30mm across and on longer peduncles; some sessile small bud like flowers present which tends to suggest the minus sens. str. parent and the longer peduncles for the others suggest the lappa parent = ssp. pubens.” This is the first time this has been recorded in VC104 but maybe all our Arctium is this?
From there I walked inland to tetrad NG33L for which there were no records. It now has 145 vascular plant taxa recorded in it. I spotted the basidiomycete lichen Lichenomphalia alpina:
and close by, the choke fungus Epichloë cf. festucae on Festuca rubra (Red Fescue):
Epichloë cf. festucae
There was a different sexton beetle (cf here), with all black antennae segments. This one is Nicrophorus vespilloides:
Later I went into Carbost, which is in a tetrad with only four plant records – at least it was until yesterday. The number of vascular plant taxa now stands at 158. As one might expect in a village there were weedy things as well as garden escapes. There is also shore and the Carbost Burn running inland into the moor and I am certain that a spring/summer visit would increase this total quite a bit further.
Notable was Calystegia pulchra (Hairy Bindweed), also known from Dunvegan, Uig and the Portree area. The species and hybrids of Calystegia are quite tricky and the flowers and bracts of our pink-and-white-flowered plants are small compared with the typical specimens further south. However, they have pedicels with narrow wavy wings (as well as sparse hairs) so this taxon is where I put them.
C. pulchra gives you wings
October 2, 2015
Deirdre & Bill have been to Loch Sleadale and re-found Elatine hexandra (Six-stamened Waterwort) and Subularia aquatica (Awlwort), the latter also being in Loch a’ Bhac-ghlais. This refreshes records from 1973 and 1989.
Elatine hexandra Photo D. Peppe. Cropped by SJB
In this image you can see the three-fold symmetry of the fruit which guarantees that it is this species of Elatine rather than E. hydropiper.
Tim has found Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed) in the far end of Sleat, the only previous record for NG50 being from Loch a’Ghlinne in 1977 but with no tetrad specified.
Steve has found Rubus tricolor (Chinese Bramble) in the Armadale area which I have seen as part of amenity planting locally but not previously known as an escape in VC104.
In Waternish, John has had a first go at a corner of tetrad NG25Y, a tetrad with no previous records, and has found nearly 80 taxa so far.
September 30, 2015
The two fungi I showed images of for NG64 on the mainland have been identified as the “magic mushroom” Psilocybe semilanceata and the waxcap Hygrocybe marchii. Bruce also managed to identify a further eight fungi from the infected leaf specimens I sent him including one that was the first for Wester Ross. So that was worth doing.
Two nights ago I put the moth trap out again and caught only three moths but one was Golden-rod Brindle, the third record for Raasay, the previous two being recorded at Holoman House by John Knowler in August/September 2014. Brian says there are no records for Skye, though NBN disagrees.