A is for Andromeda (or Absence)

In 1931 Hugo Osvald and party recorded Andromeda polifolia (Bog-rosemary from Glen Sligachan, but as was the way in those days, gave no grid reference better than a 10km square. My predecessor as Vice-county recorder spent many hours searching for it without success. When the BSBI Distributional Database became available recently I discovered another record by P. Immirzi in 1993, with a six-figure grid ref. This was also given as Glen Sligachan, but the grid ref was not in what is normally known as Glen Sligachan. However, it is near Sligachan and I went there today.  I failed to find any. But the odd plant could be easily missed. I may try again.

I decided to look for Eriocaulon aquaticum (Pipewort) as this was a tetrad that had no post-1999 record for it, but several earlier ones.  It was present in several locations. Although not flowering yet, the rosette is distinctive:

Eriocaulon

I can’t help feeling that if this basically North American plant had been recorded for the first time in the past twenty years it would have been viewed as an alien. However, the first Skye record is from 11 September 1764. This plant is only known in Europe from western Scotland and western Ireland.

I had limited hope of confirming a 1993 record for Vaccinium oxycoccus (Cranberry) and didn’t. It is perhaps a little early in the year but whilst there was a great deal of bog, I didn’t spot much habitat that looked right for this plant.

I had high expectations of finding Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed) in the River Varagill as it was reported in 1990 with a six-figure grid ref and said to be along a 1 km length of the river – but I didn’t.

On a higher note, at the third attempt I found the locally scarce Mercurialis perennis (Dog’s Mercury) “Between Loch Portree and main road” which does not allow localisation even to a tetrad. It is now pinned down with an eight figure grid ref.

It was a good day for amphibians – palmate newt, frog and many tadpoles, and dragons and damsels with lots of Four-spotted Chasers and Large Red Damselflies.

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