I was away for most of September, but towards the end of the month Skye Botany Group went to Drinan in the hope of re-finding Sorbus rupicola (Rock Whitebeam), last recorded there in 1987. We failed on that, but there is plenty more difficult rocky coastline to explore.

The MacAlister Tomb is situated in woodland near the shore and various garden plants were introduced there some years ago. Some of these have survived – Erinus alpinus (Fairy Foxglove) and Aquilegia vulgaris (Columbine), for example. Others appear not to have done e.g. Convallaria majalis (Lily-of-the-valley) (1995 record), Polygonatum x hybridum (Garden Solomon’s-seal) (1985 record) and Erysimum cheiri (Wallflower) (1980 record).

However, we did find a saxifrage that I am reasonably confident is Saxifraga umbrosa (Pyrenean Saxifrage), which is a first for VC104 apart from an anonymous, undated (1987-1999) record from NG44, the Portree area. The suspicion must be that the latter was in fact Saxifraga x urbium (S. spathularis x umbrosa – Londonpride) which is known as a garden escape in several places in Portree.

Saxifraga umbrosa

A nearby fern looks most likely to be Dryopteris cambrensis (Scaly Male-fern) but some uncertainty remains. Perhaps one to revisit next year.

Dryopteris cambrensis maybe


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