Scottish Annual Meeting

The SAM of BSBI (now Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland) and BSS (Botanical Society of Scotland) was held at RBGE this year and had its highest ever attendance. Of particular relevance to me and VC104:

Sarah Longrigg produced an excellent exhibit on Utricularia on the Isle of Eigg. All plants found, as avid readers of this blog will know, were U. minor (Lesser Bladderwort) or  U. stygia (Nordic Bladderwort). Having talked to Ian Evans at the meeting and reviewed the historical changes in species definitions, I am less sure about U. ochroleuca being a likely additional taxon to find in VC 104.

I talked with Ian Denholm about our apparent Dactylorhiza tranusteineroides sensu stricto on Skye.  His current thoughts are: “it looks to be at the interface of the two subspecies, which are rather arbitrary subdivisions of a morphological continuum that starts in Anglesey/central Ireland and reaches the f-d [francis-drucei] extreme in Harris and North Uist. I think the geographical trend still holds up, but I dearly wish we had a full set of measurements from your colony, which probably would challenge our thinking but wouldn’t be a terminal threat to our current interpretation.” We shall have to have a closer look next year.

Leslie Tucker presented some interesting results on willows and hybrids based on flow colorimetry to give C-values referring to the weight in picograms of DNA contained within a haploid nucleus (e.g. a gamete) or one half the amount in a diploid cell. I would like to explore further whether this can help with the putative Salix x grahamii (S. aurita x herbacea x repens) on Skye. Obviously it being a triple hybrid, if that is what it is, makes it difficult to know what its C-value means – in the case of a simple hybrid one would expect it to be intermediate to the values for the two parents.  Although the original (and perhaps only) finding  for this plant was in Sutherland in 1827 0r 1833, it was propagated and remains at RBGE today. So there is an opportunity for comparison – perhaps including this technique to establish whether the Skye plant has the same C-value. Whether either plant is actually the proposed triple hybrid is also up for grabs. Leslie made the eminently sensible suggestion that I attempt to propagate the Skye plant – if only to save myself from an annual trip across the moor in order to fail to find catkins.

Some of us tried out Chris Metherell’s new key fro Euphrasia (Eyebrights). Whilst there is still a way to go, I was much impressed with how the work is coming along and believe that in the fullness of time I shall be able to have a proper go at this difficult group. The new Euphrasia handbook should be available in a year or two.

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