Archive for April, 2017


April 29, 2017

Seth showed me Bluebell Rust (Uromyces muscari) at Uig and also mentioned one found on Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum). Once home, the first Tutsan plant I looked at, about two metres from my front door, had it:

Melampsora hypericorum 3 LR

Melampsora hypericorum

There are no Skye or Raasay records on the NBN Atlas, but I expect this is another very common thing that is seriously under-recorded.

The Plot Thickens

April 29, 2017

Iain Macdonald tells me he found Mitella ovalis (Bishop’s-cap) naturalised along a ditch in Inverewe Garden on 15th April. On balance, he thinks this does not count as being “in the wild”, leaving the Uig population as the first truly wild site.

As the ant flies it is 50 km from Inverewe to Uig (though 195 km by road).

Mitella ovalis at Uig

April 26, 2017

Seth showed me his Mitella ovalis (Bishop’s-cap or Oval-leaved Mitrewort) in Uig Wood today.  It is smaller than I had imagined from the earlier images and there are quite a few plants along a small watercourse.

Seth’s picture is better than any of mine so here it is:

Mitella ovalis Seth Gibson

Mitella ovalis     Photo: Seth Gibson

Note the absence of leaves from the flowering stems and the oval-shaped leaves.

The native range of this species is the Pacific coast of North America from British Columbia to California. Seed are available from at least one nursery in Scotland but presumably it has arrived in Uig Wood through the dumping of garden rubbish. We took a voucher specimen which will be deposited at RBGE.

I have asked for this species to be added to the MapMate and BSBI DDb taxon lists as this is a new species in the wild for the British Isles.

David Giblin, University of Washington Herbarium Collections Manager, who confirmed the identity of our plant, believes that the seeds have elaisomes (lipid- and protein-rich bodies that attract ants) and are dispersed by ants. We might look for elaisomes later in the year.

Seth showed me lots of his finds in his home monad – which added 52 taxa to the NG36W tetrad list – and he knows of more…..

Here is a link to his blog of our trip


April 24, 2017


The evening will also feature short talks from 3 speakers

Robin Harper – Chair of the SWT Council of Trustees

Bob McMillan – Skye Birds

Stephen Bungard – Local botanical finds in 2015/16

The Uchd Mòr & Cnoc an t-Sithein area

April 23, 2017

Tetrad NG33W had only five vascular plant records before today, two of which were mine. The count now stands at 154 which for an April visit feels like a pretty good step forward.

This tetrad is home to Skye’s largest population of Carex paniculata (Great Tussock-sedge). Deirdre pointed me towards this population and one miserable October morning I went and had a look.  Today I spent more time on the matter and found that the population extends along a small unnamed burn for over 300m, plus a couple of outliers another 250m north.

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Some things in flower today:

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Other interesting plants included Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress) and Sambucus nigra (Elder) on cliffs above Loch Harport, the latter interesting because it is a long way from habitation.

Across Loch Harport there was a pleasing view:


An Additon

April 23, 2017

I was away from my books yesterday so bothered Murdo by e-mail to see whether I could be certain that this is Bombus muscorum (Moss Carder Bee), knowing the difficulty of telling it from Bombus pascuorum (Common Carder Bee) sometimes.

Like the Del Monte Man. Murdo he says “Yes”.

Like so many things this year, that is a pretty early record for Skye.

Aketil Burn

April 22, 2017

Back in June 2011 I walked along the Caroy River but did not divert along the Aketil Burn. This was a shame as back in 1973 John Birks had found some nice things there. Today I went to try to find them – and succeeded for ten of the twelve taxa he found that were still missing from the tetrad. I failed on Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Oak Fern) and, curiously even at this time of year, Populus tremula (Aspen).

Most pleasing was re-finding Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) as there are only two known sites in NG33, this one and Glen Vic Askill (1988).

There was Veronica beccabunga (Brooklime) though not yet flowering and in the tetrad to the south the alien Rubus spectabilis (Salmonberry) which was being enjoyed by bumble bees.

There was Celandine Clustercup Rust on Ficaria verna subsp. fertilis (Lesser Celandine) and Ramularia on Rumex acetosa and R. obtusifolius – probably Ramularia pratensis on the former and Ramularia rubella on the latter – see comments.

More New Things

April 21, 2017

Well, Seth is keeping up the pace with Glechoma hederacea (Ground-ivy) at Uig.

Glechoma hederacea UIg

Glechoma hederacea         Photo: S. Gibson

This is only the sixth tetrad record post-1999 in the vice-county and probably explains an old unlocalised record by my predecessor for NG36.

Meanwhile in my garden I noticed Kuehneola uredinis (Pale Bramble Rust). My friend Paul Smith has made several records of this in the Outer Isles but this may be the first record for VC104. I bet it is elsewhere too.

Kuehneola uredinis

Steve’s plantain gall has been confirmed as Synchytrium erieum and I notice that the only other two records on the NBN Atlas are on Lismore by Carl Farmer.

New Things – Updated

April 20, 2017

Seth has found one of the Heuchera tribe of Saxifragaceae in the Uig Woods. I initially thought, without looking too closely to be honest, that it was Tellima grandiflora (Fringecups) as this is known in a few spots on Skye and Raasay, but David Broughton remarked that it looked like Mitella (or Pectiantia) ovalis (Bishop’s Cap / Oval-leaved Mitrewort). After some digging around I have to agree. Native to the western coast of North America, seeds are available in the UK, but as far as I can tell this is the first record of it in the wild in The British Isles.

Tellima Uig

Mitella ovalis                       Photo: S Gibson

I have put a link to Seth’s blog, “Skye’s The Limit” on my blog roll.

Sean found flowering Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) at Kilmory, Rum a couple of days ago, refreshing a 1983 record for that tetrad:

Orchis mascula at Kilmory

Orchis mascula                    Photo: S. Morris

Steve has found an interesting gall on Plantago lanceolata (Ribwort Plantain) which we think is caused by the chytrid fungus Synchytrium erieum. This is described as rare in British Plant Galls (Redfern & Shirley).

Plantago lanceolata gall (Steve Terry) 2

Gall on Plantago lanceolata            Photo: S. Terry

Ramasaig Bay etc.

April 17, 2017

Yesterday, I visited Ramasaig Bay. I accidentally left my camera in the car and so have limited pictures to show here. The sea cliffs had the usual suspects such as Asplenium marinum (Sea Spleenwort) and Juniperus communis subsp. nana (Dwarf Juniper) and, this being the west coast of Skye, there was Galium verum (Lady’s Bedstraw). I saw my first Green-veined White butterfly of the year and my first orchids – Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid), though not yet in flower.

I captured this bluebottle which may be Calliphora uralensis, the one I keep never recording on Raasay (Later: Confirmed – Thanks, Murdo).

Tach 3

I can also show an image of Ramularia rubella which causes leaf spot on docks – in this case Rumex obtusifolius (Broad-leaved Dock). This picture was taken on Raasay but I also saw it at Ramasaig yesterday. It is very common – just doesn’t have many records on Skye.

Ramularia rubella LR

Ramularia rubella

Another thing that is probably quite common but under-recorded is Phytomyza ilicis (Holly Leaf Gall Fly or Holly Leaf Miner) seen here on Raasay on Ilex x altaclerensis (I. aquifolium x perado) but usually recorded on native Holly (Ilex aquifolium).

Phytomyza ilicis 1