Archive for June, 2017

A Week on Muck

June 18, 2017

I have just spent a rather wet and windy week on Muck with the Inverness Botany Group. I decided to record on a monad (1 km square) basis as there are only 13 and none has 100% land. However, it spreads over four 10km squares, three of which have no other land in VC 104. We made over 1,800 records and as well as re-finding old records of many species, we added Carex extensa (Long-bracted Sedge), Carex limosa (Bog-sedge), Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle) and Valeriana officinalis (Common Valerian) to the Muck list.

Fumaria bastardii (Tall Ramping-fumitory), distinguished by its large flowers but small stipules, was a good find with only two previous sites (on Muck and Eigg) in VC104 and no record since 1999.

Fumaria bastardii Muck

Fumaria bastardii (Tall Ramping-fumitory)

Some Myriophyllum in  brackish pools led me to hope for M. spicatum for which there are no accepted records for VC 104, as this is the habitat in which it is found on Coll and Tiree and the Outer Isles.

However, the inflorescence being <3cm and the tip drooping in bud plus the basal whorl of flowers being in leaf-like pinnatisect bracts then others in pectinate bracts, tells me that it is the locally frequent M. alterniflorum.

Muck Myriophyllum 3

We also recorded a number of insects, mammals…..

The Belted Beauty has yet to be recorded on Skye.

Also fungi some of which are awaiting identification….



Back Home

June 8, 2017

Bruce has identified this fungus on our Bay (Laurus nobilis) as Phomopsis lauri, which he says is surprisingly rare.

Laurus nobilis upper lf surface

Phomopsis lauri on Bay

I found this hoverfly in the conservatory which, subject to final inspection, Murdo says is Scaeva selenitica, and “I have found that only four times before, and not since 2012”.

The NBN distribution map looks like this:

Scaeva selenitica map

What one can find without leaving house and garden…..

More from Skye’s East Coast

June 8, 2017

The day before last Saturday’s Skye Botany Group outing, Ro went up Ben Tianavaig and added 45 taxa to the tetrad. I had been there at the beginning of April 2013 – see here and here hoping to re-find Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Saxifrage) and Dryas octopetala (Mountain Avens). I succeeded in the first but failed in the second. Ro also failed to find Dryas – maybe it has been lost in a rockfall. However, she did find a single plant of Arabidopsis petraea (Northern Rock-cress), previously recorded from this tetrad in 1967 by John & Hilary Birks.

Arabis petraea Ro Ben Tianavaig

Arabidopsis petraea Photo: R Scott

Yesterday, I visited the bits I failed to get to last week, NG54J and NG55F. They now have 105 and 135 taxa recorded respectively, and I added a few to NG55A and B while passing through. There was lots of Equisetum telmateia (Great Horsetail), Eupatorium cannabinum (Hemp-agrimony) and Hypericum tetrapterum (Square-stalked St John’s-wort) all of which have limited and essentially coastal distributions on Skye.

Some of the trees were covered in lichens and bryophytes. like this Goat Willow:

Salix caprea epiphytes

Salix caprea – epiphytic flora

Not that I am getting seriously into micromoths but I managed two yesterday that have been confirmed by Keith and Nigel:

The given vernacular names are Nettle Tap and Plain Gold.

This rust on Hypochaeris radicata (Cat’s-ear) is Puccinia hieracii var. hypochaeridis:

Coincidentally Steve sent me this image from Suisnish which is of a similar thing on Pilosella officinarum (Mouse-ear-hawkweed), Puccinia hieracii var. piloselloidarum:

Puccinia hieracii var. piloselloidarum

He also sent me a picture of Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort) that appears to have a fungus on it but that has yet to be identified:

Alder on Raasay

June 6, 2017

My contribution to the June edition of Am Bratach, the Raasay Community Newsletter, is available through a link on the Recording & Resources page of my website and concerns Alder.

Two Changes of Heart

June 6, 2017

Firstly, the lime trees with hairs on the underside of the leaf veins. I went back to a 1992 paper by Donald Pigott concerning the hybrid lime trees planted in Britain in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century.  He identifies two distinct clones one of which has lower leaves with “a few paired longer hairs lying along the sides of the main vein” and the other “scattered longer simple or paired hairs along much of the length of the main veins. In some trees there are also flat stellate hairs sparsely distributed on the underside of the lamina, and not associated with the main veins”. They are both fertile and Professor Pigott tells me “they produce individuals that vary from similarity to the parent, all stages of intermediacy to T. platyphyllos and genetic dwarfs but rarely, if ever, trees you would confuse with T. cordata .”

So Tilia x europaea coming under “Leaves hairless both sides (except for tufts in vein axils below)” in keys is simply wrong. I am reverting to Tilia x europaea for the local planted trees.

Secondly, many years ago I was persuaded that a particular type of Mimulus hybrid found here (and elsewhere) is Mimulus guttatus × nummularius × variegatus (M. x caledonicus ined.) and that is how I have been recording it.

Mimulus hybrid Geary0606

Last year Mick Crawley said “My view is that both M. variegatus and M. nummularius should be sunk within M. luteus var. rivularis and therefore that your plant is no different from M. x robertsii.”

I have now been in touch with Mario Vallejo-Marin at the University of Stirling who published details of the neo-native Mimulus peregrinus in 2012. He says, “I agree that the plant you described looks like what I call Mimulus x robertsii. Identifying the exact parentage of M. x robertsii is not a straightforward task, in part because the South American parent (the M. luteus clade with all its taxa) is a complex of interfertile species. From my observations in the UK, I gather that most of the (rare) M. luteus sensu lato that occurs in the UK is of hybrid origin. I have on my list of projects to do a detailed characterisation of M. luteus in the British isles, and perhaps then I will be more adventurous in trying to recognise different strains of M. x robertsii.”

And also: “Please keep me posted of your observations on Mimulus in Skye. I would love to hear if you find any seed-producing M. x robertsii. It could be a new sighting of M. peregrinusLocal Mimulus spotters, please note.

I am changing all VC104 records of “Mimulus guttatus × nummularius × variegatus (M. x caledonicus ined.” to M. x robertsii. They are all either recorded or determined by me so I am feeling within my rights!

Skye Botany Group at Staffin

June 4, 2017

Yesterday we went to a coastal area near Staffin and recorded 191 taxa in a previously under-recorded tetrad, NG56D.

The following were new to the 10km square NG56:

Blysmus rufus (Saltmarsh Flat-sedge)
Carex hostiana x lepidocarpa
Eleocharis multicaulis (Many-stalked Spike-rush)
Fraxinus excelsior (Ash) (Planted)
Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid) (But only because older records had not been assigned to what was then a subspecies Gymnadenia conopsea subsp. borealis)
Lemna minor (Common Duckweed)
Luzula multiflora subsp. congesta (Heath Wood-rush)
Saxifraga x urbium (Londonpride) (Roadside, garden throw-out)
Triglochin maritima (Sea Arrowgrass)

and Ribes nigrum (Black Currant) about 2 metres outside the tetrad in NG56C.
We also spotted a number of insects, leaf-mines, leaf-spots and rusts, some of which are still to be determined.

Moth Trap

June 1, 2017

Last night the moth trap attracted 23 moths including a Beautiful Brocade and a Light Knot Grass, which I have not had before.  The Light Knot Grass is a bit worn.

I also attracted a fine caddis fly:

Caddis 170601

but I don’t think I am going to get it determined to species.


June 1, 2017

I started the day with the intention of covering tetrads NG54E (97% land), NG54J (1%) and NG55F (3%) which had 7, 0 and 17 previously recorded taxa respectively. However I only covered the first, which turned out to have an excellent range of habitats from the scree of Fiurnean to lush coastal woodland.

Before I had even reached the target tetrad and only 150m from the car I found a patch of Carex paniculata (Greater Tussock-sedge). This is turning out to be not quite as rare as earlier records had suggested, though it remains far from common on Skye:

Cxpanic map

Highlights from Fiurnean included a group of crucifers growing more-or-less together: Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress), Arabis hirsuta (Hairy Rock-cress), Draba incana (Hoary Whitlowgrass) and Erophila glabrescens (Glabrous Whitlowgrass). Also present on the cliffs were Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady’s-mantle), Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort) and Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage), while down below towards the coast there were Equisetum telmateia (Great Horsetail) and Saxifraga aizoides (Yellow Saxifrage).

Steve’s May Records

June 1, 2017

On the last day of the month Steve added Doronicum pardalianches (Leopard’s-bane) to the vice-county list as an escape near Hinnisdal Bridge.  Previously, Mull was the farthest up the west coast it had been recorded.


Doronicum pardalianches at Hinnisdale Photo: S Terry

New hectad records in May included Saxifraga x urbium (Londonpride) and, as previously reported, Sagina subulata (Heath Pearlwort), both at Tarskavaig.

It is also good to see reports of Cephalanthera longifolia (Narrow-leaved Helleborine) from him and Tim at a site I didn’t get to revisit this year.