Archive for March, 2015

Early Pampas-grass

March 25, 2015

I am not a fan of Cortaderia richardii (Early Pampas-grass) and it is spreading. I found a site in a new hectad a few days ago – between Osmigarry and Score. So the VC104 distribution map now looks like this:

Cort ric map

Most VC104 sites are roadside but in some places, including Raasay, it is also across the moor.

The hectad distribution map for the British Isles is here.

Natural England describe it in “Horizon-scanning for invasive non-native plants in Great Britain” as one of 59 non-native potentially invasive plants ranked as Critical i.e. needing detailed risk assessment as a matter of priority.

Plantlife have the same view.

This plant is endemic to New Zealand where it is also known as Tussock Grass and it has also been introduced into Tasmania. At least some authorities say that it should be renamed Austroderia richardii.

The Royal Horticultural Society gave this plant an Award of Garden Merit in 2002 which was reconfirmed after trial in 2009.


March 25, 2015

Some time ago a tree trunk washed up on the shore in front of the house. Today I got round to sawing it up. Whilst part of it had conventional tree rings, for a large part of its length the cross-section looks like this:



I am wondering what caused this effect and can only think that what we are seeing is different domains of fungal mycelium that had started to rot the tree before it entered salt water.  Anyone got a better idea?

Some Different Distribution Maps

March 23, 2015

These may say more about recording effort than anything else but the BSBI Distribution Database allows the construction of maps like these:

Carex species per hectad

Carex species per hectad

Charophyte Species per Hectad

Charophyte species per Hectad

I think Steve will be pleased – we discussed achieving this via MapMate some time ago and, apart from orchids for which there is a specific filter, basically gave up.

The BSBI Distribution Database

March 22, 2015

The BSBI Distribution Database is a wondrous thing. It has become so good that I am now struggling to think of questions to ask it.

For example, things that take hardly any time:

Taxa per tetrad 2000- present

Taxa per tetrad 2000- present in VC104

Altitude Range for Alchemilla alpina & A, glabra in VC104

Altitude Range for Alchemilla alpina & A. glabra in VC104

A view of how recording for Atlas 2020 is going by hectad (10km square):

Hectad notfound






Total % total taxarecorded

since 2000

NG13 43 134 15 192 78%
NG14 125 294 49 468 73%
NG15 79 290 72 441 82%
NG20 167 309 25 501 67%
NG23 82 186 27 295 72%
NG24 178 358 67 603 70%

A history of hectad records for taxa, here exemplified by some sedges:

Taxon pre-1930 1930-1969 1970-1986 1987-1999 2000-2009 2010- total freq
Carex lasiocarpa 6 8 8 9 7 3 19
Carex lepidocarpa 4 21 17 35 11 8 40
Carex leporina 6 38 18 35 39 29 44
Carex limosa 10 18 13 15 14 11 28
Carex nigra 5 38 27 45 48 39 51
Carex norvegica 1 1 0 0 0 0 1
Carex oederi 14 11 8 8 12 6 33
Carex otrubae 8 17 2 14 21 13 30
Carex pallescens 8 31 16 29 28 20 41
Carex panicea 5 40 19 47 48 40 49
Carex paniculata 1 4 5 5 4 4 14
Carex pauciflora 9 18 12 11 9 4 30

I may never want to go out in the field again…..

Distribution maps of taxa, and read-only access to the ‘message board’ are available to anyone; you do not have to have a login password. The database is here.

Andrew Currie’s Herbarium

March 22, 2015

Some time ago I mentioned Andrew Currie’s Herbarium. Soon after that, Marion Moir and Keith Sadler took roughly half each and catalogued the sheets in great detail on a spreadsheet provided by Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. The sheets were then transferred to RBGE where they will become part of the general herbarium.

There were c. 1800 sheets of which c 75% were from the UK (63% from Scotland). The vice-counties with the most sheets were:

Mid-Perthshire VC88 215
Shetland VC112 200
Midlothian VC83 189
East Lothian VC82 111

There were rather few from local VCs, VC97 (1), VC104 (6), VC105 (36).

This was a tremendous effort and much appreciated by RBGE and BSBI.  Thanks are also due to other members of Skye Botany Group who offered to help in various ways.

Creag Orril, Carn Uruga, etc.

March 21, 2015

Just south of Duntulm there is what was a very poorly explored tetrad so yesterday I had a go. I started by looking for Ammophila arenaria (Marram) along the next stretch of shore to the northeast of last week’s section – with the same result. There was Tussilago farfara (Colt’s-foot) in flower at the mouth of a burn:

Tussilago farfara

Tussilago farfara

This was the first Drinker caterpillar of the year for me:

Drinker larva

Drinker larva

There is a lovely bit of wet birch woodland near Carn Uruga with lots of Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) which was one of my targets for the day as it had not been recorded in the 10 km square NG47 since 1973.

IMG_4388aand one old Downy Birch was supporting a mighty Honeysuckle:

IMG_4391aThe cliffs of Creag Orril had Silene acaulis (Moss Campion) and look as though there could be other interesting plants to be seen later in the season.


March 20, 2015

At its peak the sun was clear of clouds and beyond my wee camera’s ability to deal with. However a little before, the cloud allowed a photo:


Insect News

March 19, 2015

A moth trap the night before last yielded four moths:

In fact only one made it right into the trap, one was part way in and two were on the adjacent wall. Thank to Brian for the id’s. The Pale Brindled Beauty is a first for Raasay.

Today there was a two-banded longhorn beetle (Rhagium bifasciatum) in the house. I have had this before.

Talk in Portree Friday Evening

March 19, 2015

Kathryn Goodenough of the British Geological Survey will be giving a talk under the auspices of Skye SWT:

Kathryn's talk

Caterpillar – Modified Post

March 15, 2015

I harvested a cabbage from the garden just now and this was in it:


Angle Shades

After weeks of storms including winds >100mph recorded on Raasay at sea level – and now frost at night, it almost deserves some of my cabbage.

Steve points out that it is an Angle Shades larva – see post. Many thanks to him.