Archive for September, 2020

More Plant Matters

September 25, 2020

Seth had a good day on Wednesday, finding two plants that are new to the vice-county. Firstly, Persicaria wallichii (Himalayan Knotweed) has encroached onto the road verge from a garden near Loch Bay House in Waternish:

Persicaria wallichii (Himalayan Knotweed) Image SJD Gibson

One of the key fatures of this species is the unequal petals:

Persicaria wallichii flower

Then he spotted Poterium sanguisorba subsp. balearicum (Fodder Burnet) beside a track at Edinbane.

Poterium sanguisorba subsp. balearicum (Fodder Burnet)
Poterium sanguisorba subsp. balearicum Image SJD GIbson

This plant is closely related to Poterium sanguisorba subsp. sanguisorba (Salad Burnet) and as the name suggests, used to be grown for fodder. However, it has also been included in “wildflower” seed mixes.

Meanwhile, Joanna has spotted Ulex gallii (Western Gorse) at two new sites on the Harlosh peninsula. This is a pretty rare plant on Skye though the golden yellow flowers now in evidence (with associated withered flowers rather than buds) make it stand out from a distance.

Ulex gallii (Western Gorse)

Mostly the common Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is not flowering at the moment but a few pieces are.

Ulex europaeus on left and Ulex gallii on right

Amongst other differences, in U. gallii the flowers are smaller and deeper yellow and the calyx has appressed rather than spreading hairs.

Yesterday I went to see these sites with Joanna and Julian and thus encouraged, I managed to re-find a 1998 site for U. gallii near Lonmore.


September 20, 2020

I was away for a couple of weeks, but here are a few items from before or after, mostly seen with Seth and/or Neil.

Acleris emargana Notch-winged Tortrix

Galls caused by the sawfly Euura venusta on Salix caprea (Goat Willow)

This Grey Dagger larva attached itself to me in the garden and then fell off onto the carpet. I took its picture before escorting it out again:

Grey Dagger larva

A seashore excursion to see Neil’s extensive Eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows in the sea at Harlosh sadly did not lead to any seahorse sightings. (There are records this far north, but not from Skye.)

Zostera marina at Harlosh

It was the equinoctial tide and we found many interesting critters such as a Stalked Jellyfish Calvadosia campanulata, a Tube Anemone Cerianthus lloydii, Risso’s Crab (Xantho pilipes), Star Ascidian (Botryllus schlosseri) and the Small Brittlestar (Amphipholis squamata).

Risso’s Crab

A Small Tree

September 19, 2020

I have not been able to identify a small tree at Gedintailor on Skye that was found a few weeks ago.

Tree at Gedintailor

My initial thoughts were of Prunus sp. but then these ear-like stipules suggested a Salix.


There were the remains of inflorescences:

Remains of inflorescence

There are Prunus-like glands on some of the petioles

Twig & upper side of leaves

Having shared images with various experienced botanists, the consensus is that this is a member of the Rosaceae (e.g. Prunus). However, I think it will have to wait for flowers next spring to be sorted out fully.

Plant Matters

September 16, 2020

The final batch of Hieracium specimens for the year produced two notable species, H. dasythrix (Dense-haired Hawkweed) on Glamaig with only one previous record in the vice-county (in 1973) and H. cyclicum (Round-leaved Hawkweed) from Leathad Beithe (Talisker) which has five earlier records, one in 2002, the rest considerably earlier. H. cyclicum does have distinctive round leaves:

I started the year with five specific Hieracium targets in addition to the more general suveying:

  • Seth’s 2019 H. beebyanum or H. deganwyense at Uig
  • My H. subcrinellum at Allt Daraich, Sligachan
  • An attempt to refind H. stenopholidium at Hallaig, Raasay
  • My 2019 H. reticulatiforme or H. strictiforme at Talisker
  • H. drummondii at Laig, Eigg

None of these has been fully resolved:

  • Seth’s Uig plant matches no known species but before attempting to describe it as a new species it would have to be found in other locations.
  • Only H.shoolbredii and H. anglicum have been found at the Allt Daraich site.
  • H. stenopholidium was not found at Hallaig.
  • H. cyclicum and H. triviale have been found at the Talisker site.
  • I did not get to Eigg.

Elsewhere Joanna and Julian have moved to Harlosh and found Lepidium didymum (Lesser Swine-cress) as a weed in their garden – a first for the vice-county.

Lepidium didymum (Lesser Swine-cress)
Lepidium didymum (Lesser Swine-cress)

Neil and Seth have each been adding useful records for e.g. Salix purpurea (Purple Willow) and Zostera marina (Eelgrass).