Archive for September, 2009

400 and counting

September 30, 2009

I notice that 400 different folks have visited my Flora of Raasay and Rona since I started the counter. Nice to know that there is such interest in a somewhat esoteric subject.

Not much botany happening now – the season is largely over, the weather is poor and I am away a lot.  However, there will be occasional things to report in the winter months.

The last Equisetum x trachyodon site checked

September 17, 2009

Yesterday I checked the only remaining Equisetum x trachyodon (Mackay’s Horsetail (E. hyemale x variegatum)) site in the vice-county for which I did not have a post-Atlas 2000 record.  I was short of time but found a few shoots well up the Hinnisdale River.  There was also a new site for Gentianella campestris (Field Gentian) even though the plants were all dried up by this time of year.

Angle Shades Moth

September 13, 2009

Not very botanical, in fact not botanical at all, but I found this in our garage last night:

Phlogophora meticulosa

Phlogophora meticulosa

which Brian Neath tells me is Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa) and that recent records for Skye and Raasay are few and far between.

Those Herbarium United Specimens

September 11, 2009

OK, this is only for the specialist, but there are lessons here for any fellow VCRs reading this.

N.B. The specimen descriptions have now been updated on the herbariaunited database.  University of Birmingham  Vaccinium uliginosum

The herbarium sheet gives location as mountain near Luib.  This has been catalogued as Luib, Skye but this species has never been recorded in VC104.

However, Luib, Stirling in NN42 is in the centre of the known distribution for this species.

This specimen was collected in July 1876.

There are three other specimens from Luib in July 1876 all also in the University of Birmingham Herbarium: Saxifraga hypnoides presented by Mr Langley Kitching  Pedicularis palustris presented by Mr Langley Kitching  Polystichum lonchitis presented by Mr Langley Kitching

The first two of these just say Luib (handwritten) as per the Vaccinium specimen but the last says Luib (Ross & Cromarty).  Is this a later assumption?  And why say Ross & Cromarty rather than Skye?

These three are eminently possible in Skye or Stirling.

As well as the above three, there is one further specimen by Langley Kitching, supposedly from VC104:  Linnaea borealis from “Top of Glen Dale, Island of Skye (?)”

This is unlikely on distributional grounds.

On balance I suggest all five of these specimens are unlikely to have come from Skye.

Which leads me to: catalogued as Festuca ovina from Luib.

The sheet appears to say Uig not Luib and the collector, E. F. Linton was certainly in Uig on 6 Aug 1884, the date of the specimen – as is known from specimens in other herbaria.

Also, it was originally described as Festuca glauca which would place it within F. rubra rather than F. ovina – and as far as one can tell from the image it probably is F. rubra.

All this makes me realise that I should spend some time looking at the other specimens assigned to VC 104 in Herbariaunited.

Belig and Glas Bheinn Mhór

September 10, 2009
Today I climbed Belig (702m) and Glas Bheinn Mhór (569m) near Luib.  I planned to do this as a reult of the Vaccinium uliginosum (Bog whortleberry) herbarium record mentioned recently.  However, before I went I had decided that this was probably nothing to do with Skye – I will post on this later (probably tomorrow).


Glas Bheinn Mhór

Glas Bheinn Mhór

I found lots of montane species such as the locally common Alpine Lady’s-mantle:

Alchemilla alpina

Alchemilla alpina

Alpine Clubmoss:

Diphasiatrum alpinum

Diphasiatrum alpinum

and Mountain Sorrel:

Mountain Sorrel

Oxyria digyna

but also the scarcer Dwarf Cudweed:

Gnaphalium supinum

Gnaphalium supinum

and Spiked Wood-rush:

Spiked Wood-rush

Luzula spicata

Other notable species included Juncus trifidus (Three-leaved Rush), Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow) and Saxifraga stellaris (Starry saxifrage).

Also fine views in all directions e.g.

Towards Blaven

Towards Blaven

Monkey-puzzle and Canadian Goldenrod

September 8, 2009

There is a single specimen of Araucaria araucana (Monkey-puzzle) by the Raasay sawmill which has developed a good crop of cones this year:

Monkey-puzzle with cones

Monkey-puzzle with cones

There are some older cones as well as the fresh ones so it must have fruited, if that is the right term, last year as well.  It is clearly a female and would need a male to form the nut-like seeds.  The nearest other monkey-puzzles I know are at Arnish about 12 km away and Portree on Skye about 10 km away, both to the north which is not the prevailing wind direction for pollination.

The cones are all on the southwest-facing side of the tree.

I have also noticed a small piece of Solidago canadensis (Canadian Goldenrod) as a garden throwout in Inverarish on Raasay where it is flourishing with some other throwouts that I have noted previously.

New Herbarium United Specimens from Skye

September 1, 2009

Yesterday was a very wet day so I have checked Herbaria United for new entries for VC 104 since January when I last checked.  There are four:  Ribes rubrum (Red Currant), Linnaea borealis (Twinflower), Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage) and Vaccinium uliginosum (Bog Bilberry).

The currant is from the Uig area in 1888 and the original inscription on the herbarium sheet is Ribes Grossularia v. spicatum. Later it has been determined as Ribes rubrum v. vulgare. However, there are no flowers which are important for separating these species, and this is an area of Skye where Ribes spicatum (Downy Currant) is well known and has been since 1868 whereas Ribes rubrum (Red Currant) is not known.

The twinflower seems very unlikely and whilst that is undoubtedly what the specimen is, the location is given as Top of Glen Dale, Isle of Skye (?) and undated.

The saxifrage is from 1876 near Luib and is not particularly notable.

The Bog Bilberry or Bog Whortleberry however, is very interesting as this is a species that I have thought might well be waiting to be found in the vice-county, perhaps in the Kyleakin Hills or the Red Cuillins. There are two other montane plants that I have had similar thoughts about: Cornus suecica (Dwarf Cornel) and Rubus chamaemorus (Cloudberry).  The herbarium specimen is from a mountain near Luib in 1876 which would put it in the Red Cuillins. I wonder if it is still there…….