A willow spotted when I was in the Meadale area last month has been identified by Desmond Meikle as Salix x ambigua, the hybrid between S. aurita (Eared Willow) and S. repens (Creeping Willow). Given the widespread presence of both parents, the hybrid is  perhaps unexpectedly infrequently recorded. See distribution map through this portal. Desmond says in his BSBI Handbook Willows and Poplars, “The hybrid” (Salix x ambigua)  “is very widely distributed on acid, heathy ground, occurring wherever both parents are to be found, but, like other hybrids, often uncommon where both parents are equally represented, and, contrary to what one might expect, more frequent where one of the parents is much less abundant that the other.”

Both parents are common on Skye but apart from right on the coast, which this wasn’t, S. aurita is usually the commoner.

Desmond Meikle is intending to retire as BSBI willow referee at the age of 90 and will be a very hard act to follow. He has been enormous help to the understanding of these plants in VC104 (and elsewhere) over a long period.


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