April 26, 2017
Seth showed me his Mitella ovalis (Bishop’s-cap or Oval-leaved Mitrewort) in Uig Wood today. It is smaller than I had imagined from the earlier images and there are quite a few plants along a small watercourse.
Seth’s picture is better than any of mine so here it is:
Mitella ovalis Photo: Seth Gibson
Note the absence of leaves from the flowering stems and the oval-shaped leaves.
The native range of this species is the Pacific coast of North America from British Columbia to California. Seed are available from at least one nursery in Scotland but presumably it has arrived in Uig Wood through the dumping of garden rubbish. We took a voucher specimen which will be deposited at RBGE.
I have asked for this species to be added to the MapMate and BSBI DDb taxon lists as this is a new species in the wild for the British Isles.
David Giblin, University of Washington Herbarium Collections Manager, who confirmed the identity of our plant, believes that the seeds have elaisomes (lipid- and protein-rich bodies that attract ants) and are dispersed by ants. We might look for elaisomes later in the year.
Seth showed me lots of his finds in his home monad – which added 52 taxa to the NG36W tetrad list – and he knows of more…..
April 24, 2017
The evening will also feature short talks from 3 speakers
Robin Harper – Chair of the SWT Council of Trustees
Bob McMillan – Skye Birds
Stephen Bungard – Local botanical finds in 2015/16
April 23, 2017
Tetrad NG33W had only five vascular plant records before today, two of which were mine. The count now stands at 154 which for an April visit feels like a pretty good step forward.
This tetrad is home to Skye’s largest population of Carex paniculata (Great Tussock-sedge). Deirdre pointed me towards this population and one miserable October morning I went and had a look. Today I spent more time on the matter and found that the population extends along a small unnamed burn for over 300m, plus a couple of outliers another 250m north.
Some things in flower today:
Other interesting plants included Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress) and Sambucus nigra (Elder) on cliffs above Loch Harport, the latter interesting because it is a long way from habitation.
Across Loch Harport there was a pleasing view:
April 23, 2017
I was away from my books yesterday so bothered Murdo by e-mail to see whether I could be certain that this is Bombus muscorum (Moss Carder Bee), knowing the difficulty of telling it from Bombus pascuorum (Common Carder Bee) sometimes.
Like the Del Monte Man. Murdo he says “Yes”.
Like so many things this year, that is a pretty early record for Skye.
April 22, 2017
Back in June 2011 I walked along the Caroy River but did not divert along the Aketil Burn. This was a shame as back in 1973 John Birks had found some nice things there. Today I went to try to find them – and succeeded for ten of the twelve taxa he found that were still missing from the tetrad. I failed on Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Oak Fern) and, curiously even at this time of year, Populus tremula (Aspen).
Most pleasing was re-finding Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) as there are only two known sites in NG33, this one and Glen Vic Askill (1988).
There was Veronica beccabunga (Brooklime) though not yet flowering and in the tetrad to the south the alien Rubus spectabilis (Salmonberry) which was being enjoyed by bumble bees.
There was Celandine Clustercup Rust on Ficaria verna subsp. fertilis (Lesser Celandine) and Ramularia on Rumex acetosa and R. obtusifolius – probably Ramularia pratensis on the former and Ramularia rubella on the latter – see comments.
Ramularia rubella on Rumex acetosa
April 21, 2017
Well, Seth is keeping up the pace with Glechoma hederacea (Ground-ivy) at Uig.
Glechoma hederacea Photo: S. Gibson
This is only the sixth tetrad record post-1999 in the vice-county and probably explains an old unlocalised record by my predecessor for NG36.
Meanwhile in my garden I noticed Kuehneola uredinis (Pale Bramble Rust). My friend Paul Smith has made several records of this in the Outer Isles but this may be the first record for VC104. I bet it is elsewhere too.
Steve’s plantain gall has been confirmed as Synchytrium erieum and I notice that the only other two records on the NBN Atlas are on Lismore by Carl Farmer.
April 20, 2017
Seth has found one of the Heuchera tribe of Saxifragaceae in the Uig Woods. I initially thought, without looking too closely to be honest, that it was Tellima grandiflora (Fringecups) as this is known in a few spots on Skye and Raasay, but David Broughton remarked that it looked like Mitella (or Pectiantia) ovalis (Bishop’s Cap / Oval-leaved Mitrewort). After some digging around I have to agree. Native to the western coast of North America, seeds are available in the UK, but as far as I can tell this is the first record of it in the wild in The British Isles.
Mitella ovalis Photo: S Gibson
I have put a link to Seth’s blog, “Skye’s The Limit” on my blog roll.
Sean found flowering Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) at Kilmory, Rum a couple of days ago, refreshing a 1983 record for that tetrad:
Orchis mascula Photo: S. Morris
Steve has found an interesting gall on Plantago lanceolata (Ribwort Plantain) which we think is caused by the chytrid fungus Synchytrium erieum. This is described as rare in British Plant Galls (Redfern & Shirley).
Gall on Plantago lanceolata Photo: S. Terry
April 17, 2017
Yesterday, I visited Ramasaig Bay. I accidentally left my camera in the car and so have limited pictures to show here. The sea cliffs had the usual suspects such as Asplenium marinum (Sea Spleenwort) and Juniperus communis subsp. nana (Dwarf Juniper) and, this being the west coast of Skye, there was Galium verum (Lady’s Bedstraw). I saw my first Green-veined White butterfly of the year and my first orchids – Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid), though not yet in flower.
I captured this bluebottle which may be Calliphora uralensis, the one I keep never recording on Raasay (Thanks, Murdo).
I can also show an image of Ramularia rubella which causes leaf spot on docks – in this case Rumex obtusifolius (Broad-leaved Dock). This picture was taken on Raasay but I also saw it at Ramasaig yesterday. It is very common – just doesn’t have many records on Skye.
Another thing that is probably quite common but under-recorded is Phytomyza ilicis (Holly Leaf Gall Fly or Holly Leaf Miner) seen here on Raasay on Ilex x altaclerensis (I. aquifolium x perado) but usually recorded on native Holly (Ilex aquifolium).
April 12, 2017
My talk at the splendid new Community Hub in Sleat, An Crùbh, seemed to go down pretty well. There was a good turnout, lots of discussion and several folks told me about plants that will lead to new records. One kindly brought some specimens to be identified – including one of the locally infrequent Geranium lucidum (Shining Crane’s-bill).
I am hopeful that it will lead to further botanical interactions in Sleat.
April 12, 2017
Readers with long memories will recall that about a year ago I extracted Skye records from the Scottish Saltmarsh Survey undertaken in 2010 to 2012 and commissioned by SNH and SEPA. Over last winter I took on the task of extracting plant records from this survey for the rest of Scotland and obtained over 20,000 records which are now on the BSBI Distribution Database.
I have written the exercise up for BSBI News, which will be published in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, there is an item about it on the BSBI News & Views blog.