Archive for July, 2019


July 31, 2019

Five members of Skye Botany Group went to Hinnisdal yesterday and made over 230 records in NG35Y. Highlights were Rumex x hybridus (R. longifolius x obtusifolius) and Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Oak Fern).

Gymnocarpium dryopteris

Gymnocarpium dryopteris

We made the first record for Salix x multinervis (S. aurita x cinerea) in NG35. This is something that is almost certainly under-recorded on Skye.

We also spotted this attractive fungus, Panaeolus papilionaceus (Petticoat Mottlegill):

Panaeolus papilionaceus


July 31, 2019

Earlier this year someone put a 2015 record for Euphorbia amygdaloides subsp. robbiae (Turkish Wood Spurge) in Portree on iRecord. There was a photo that looked fine to me and so in my role as verifier for iRecord for plants in VC104 I gave it the thumbs up.

As there was a decent grid reference, on Friday I went to look for it and found this:

which Timothy Walker (BSBI Euphorbia referee) tells me is Euphorbia sikkimensis (Sikkim spurge). He also agrees that the original photo from iRecord is Euphorbia amygdaloides subsp. robbiae. The site is where garden rubbish is thrown and so I think I have uncovered a serial spurge slinger.

There is only one record on the BSBI Database for Euphorbia sikkimensis in the wild and that is in Acton, West London.


July 29, 2019

Determined is what we had to be in order to get to Ulfhart Point on Skye opposite Soay, but at the third attempt the Skye Botany Group made it last Thursday.  A huge thank you to  Misty Isle Boat Trips for getting us there – and back, which was trickier given that the wind had got up and we had to transfer by dinghy.



Determination is also what it takes to record in all tetrads of a vice-county. VC104 has 709 tetrads. After this visit to the last two with no records since before 2000, in fact no records ever, 700 now have recent records, six definitely contain no vascular plants and the remaining three probably don’t either as they contain hardly any land above the high water mark.

Another huge thank you to all who have helped achieve this manic target.

The two tetrads we polished off, NG41T and NG41Y, now have 189 and 111 taxa recorded respectively. There is a little bit of overstatement in the NG41T number total as the nine of us split into two groups and the two recorders had marginally different approaches to aggregates and subspecies – and both groups recorded in NG41T.

We found Elymus caninus (Bearded Couch) near the shore, but otherwise there were no great rarities, but we saw nice things like Eriophorum latifolium (Broad-leaved Cottongrass), Oxyria digyna (Mountain Sorrel) and Utricularia minor (Lesser Bladderwort).

There was a gall I hadn’t seen before on Prunus padus (Bird Cherry) which is apparently caused by the mite Phyllocoptes eupadi.

Phyllocoptes eupadi

Phyllocoptes eupadi galls on Prunus padus

All in all a great day with many different butterflies, moths and other insects and a total of three adders.


July 28, 2019

A few things that are not fully determined (and probably won’t be) follow.

On a saltmarsh pool on Sanday:

Sanday mite

Snout mite (Bdelloidea sp.)    (Thanks, Seth)

One of the grass moths – probably Agriphila straminella (thanks, Keith) at home:

Agriphila straminella

Agriphila straminella probably

One of the three Tenthredo arcuata group of sawflies (Thanks, Murdo) at home:

Tenthredo arcuata agg.

Tenthredo arcuata agg.

Tormore & Fairy Glen

July 27, 2019

Skye Nature Group’s excursion to Sleat on Wednesday took us to Tormore and to Fairy Glen below Calligarry. These were in tetrads that had been covered pretty well for vascular plants but there were still a number of significant finds.

We added Atriplex prostrata s.s. (Spear-leaved Orache), Crocosmia pottsii (Pott’s Montbretia), Elymus x laxus (E. junceiformis x repens), Larix kaempferi (Japanese Larch) and Sagina nodosa (Knotted Pearlwort) to the list for the 10km square NG60.

Sagina nodosa

Sagina nodosa

We added a new site for Ammophila arenaria (Marram), the fourth on Skye in recent times apart from Glenbrittle Beach – all along a short stretch of the Sleat shoreline. There was also Leymus arenarius (Lyme-grass) – only the fifth Skye site in recent times – and Cephalanthera longifolia (Narrow-leaved Helleborine) and Ophioglossum vulgatum (Adder’s-tongue) were growing together at a known site.

The Cotoneaster integrifolius (Entire-leaved Cotoneaster) at Tormore was doing rather too well:

Cotoneaster integrifolius

Cotoneaster integrifolius

I was pleased to find galls caused by the mite Phyllocoptes goniothorax on Hawthorn. I saw lots of these on Colonsay but there are no records in VC104 on NBN.

Phyllocoptes goniothorax

Phyllocoptes goniothorax galls on Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn)

Neil and/or Seth spotted some fine galls on Oenanthe crocata (Hemlock Water-dropwort) that look to me like those caused by the fungus Protomyces macrosporus:

Protomyces macrosporus on Oenanthe crocata

Protomyces macrosporus on Oenanthe crocata

but I await their views. Also there was a mass of pea galls on Rosa vosagiaca (Glaucous Dog-rose):

Rose Pea Galls

Rose Pea Galls

Horizontal Gene Transfer

July 23, 2019

We don’t have any of the Dodders  in VC104, indeed there are not many records for Scotland but I think this is of general interest from ScienceDaily:

Some parasitic plants steal genetic material from their host plants and use the stolen genes to siphon off the host’s nutrients more effectively. A new study led by researchers at Penn State and Virginia Tech reveals that the parasitic plant dodder has stolen a large amount of genetic material from its hosts, including over 100 functional genes. These stolen genes contribute to dodder’s ability to latch onto and steal nutrients from the host and even to send genetic weapons back into the host. The new study appears on July 22, 2019, in the journal Nature Plants.

More here.


July 19, 2019

I am away seeing plants not normally encountered in Skye or Raasay:


But before I left I had a long day starting from Orbost and taking in the Idrigill Burn, Ben Idrigill and Beinn na Boineid. These last two lie in tetrad NG23J which had only a handful of post-1999 records. This allowed me to re-find several plants not recorded in NG23 since last century such as Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Oak Fern), Potentilla sterilis (Barren Strawberry) and Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Cowberry) and also adding several  completely new to the hectad such as Aira caryophyllea (Silver Hair-grass), Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort) and Myosotis discolor (Changing Forget-me-not).

The Idrigill Burn turned out to be more a machete and crampons event than the gentle stroll along a mountain stream I had imagined.

Idrigill Burn

Idrigill Burn

Then on Sunday I went to visit the small area of land in NG72D, which had no plant records. I had missed that this needed surveying for reasons too tedious to go into here. Anyway, the land area is 0.6% of a full tetrad and I found 68 taxa including Ceratocapnos claviculata (Climbing Corydalis):

Ceratocapnos claviculata

Ceratocapnos claviculata (Climbing Corydalis)

At Broadford Co-op there was an area of newly seeded grassland and in there were a number of weeds some of which are very uncommon locally – Papaver dubium (Long-headed Poppy) and a Fumaria that I am fairly sure is Fumaria muralis (Common Ramping-fumitory) but need to get home to some reference works to confirm. Later: Confirmed by Heather McHaffie.

Fumaria sp

Fumaria sp.

Meanwhile, Lee has found an extraordinary number of Orobanche alba (Thyme Broomrape) spikes  – over 300 – near Cocaire,


Just part of the colony.               Image L. Thickett

and Seth followed by Keith have reported Alstroemeria aurea (Peruvian Lily) as garden escapes.

Nic has been high in the Cuillin to help with poorly recorded squares and John has been working a monad at Fairy Bridge and adding many species to the relevant tetrad.

Images from Colonsay – Insects

July 10, 2019
Belted Beauty larva Colonsay

Belted Beauty Larva

Celypha cespitana

Micro-moth Celypha cespitana

Omocestus viridulus

Common Green Grasshopper

Clouded Buff

Clouded Buff

Northen Eggar Larva

Northen Eggar Larva

Parasitic Wasp

Parasitic Wasp

Yellow Shell

Yellow Shell

Images from Colonsay – Plants

July 10, 2019
Anacamptis pyramidalis

Anacamptis pyramidalis (Pyramidal Orchid)

Beta vulgaris ssp maritima

Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima (Sea Beet)

Coeloglossum viride

Coeloglossum viride (Frog Orchid)

Crithmum maritimum

Crithmum maritimum (Rock Samphire)

Gentianella amarella ssp occidentalis

Gentianella amarella subsp. occidentalis (Dune Gentian)

Ivy on the Beach

Ivy on the Beach

Orobanche alba

Orobanche alba (Thyme Broomrape)


July 8, 2019

I spent a week on Colonsay with five other botanists refreshing my skills in sand dune and sandy soil habitats, amongst other things. An excellent week in which I learnt about several new galls, saw a Small Copper butterfly, which I have never seen on Skye/Raasay and found nice things in the local context like Atriplex laciniata (Frosted Orache) and Orobanche alba (Thyme Broomrape).

I made the most of my refreshed and new skills by going to Canna/Sanday on Saturday. On summer Saturdays it is possible to have over eight hours on the islands by catching the 0730 ferry from Mallaig and leaving Canna on the 1820.

This proved very useful as I re-found 1930s records in the Sanday dunes for Catapodium marinum (Sea Fern-grass) and Trifolium campestre (Hop Trefoil). In both cases these are only the second recent records for the vice-county, the others being on Rum and Eigg respectively.

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I also inadvertently made the first Canna/Sanday record and therefore the first NG20 record for several species including Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort), Carex remota (Remote Sedge) and Scrophularia auriculata (Water Figwort), the last looking like a recent import at the ferry terminal.

Even more importantly, I made the first VC104 record for Polygonum boreale (Northern Knotgrass), distinguished from P. aviculare by having oblong-ovate, petiolate leaves (and large nuts, but it is too early in the year for that to be apparent).

Polygonum boreale 2.JPG

This is a species that was thought to be restricted to the Northern Isles but has since been found in the Outer Isles and Tiree and Colonsay.

The dipteran Janetiella frankumi makes this gall on Rosa spinosissima (Burnet Rose):

Janetiella frankumi

Janetiella frankumi

Simon showed it to me on Colonsay, and there it was on Canna.

So much more I could write but I must get on with entering records into the database……