Posts Tagged ‘Fungi’

Brae, Raasay

April 14, 2019

I made a shortish visit to the Brae area of Raasay today to update some old plant records i.e. try to re-find some more of the things I recorded before 2000. This was reasonably successful given the time of year, but I also spotted a couple of insects and a fungus worth mentioning.

I have seen four specimens of the Green Parasitic Fly (Gymnocheta viridis) in the past couple of weeks, but today I spotted another tachinid that may be Botria subalpina, a fly first recorded in the British Isles, in NW Scotland, in 1994. There are still only 13 records on NBN, all in the Highlands, one of which was at my home three years ago. If right, and that will have to wait until I see Murdo at the end of the month, this will be a second 10km square on Raasay where it is known.

Tachinid

Tachinid

I also spotted a Violet Oil-Beetle (Meloe violaceus), the second in less than a week seen on Raasay as Jonathan and Sarah found one at the far north end last Tuesday. One has to be careful to distinguish this from Meloe proscarabaeus – a useful guide is here. There are about as many Raasay records as there are Skye records, so may be something to look out for across the water.

Meloe violaceus

Meloe violaceus

The fungus is worth mentioning because now is the time of year to find it:

Uromyces dactylidis

Celandine Clustercup Rust (Uromyces dactylidis)

Kinloch Ravine and Allt nam Criopag

March 24, 2019

Fresh snow on the hills, hail beating at the window at 8 am, yesterday was obviously the perfect day for my first serious botanical expedition of the year. In fact it turned out reasonably pleasant with just a few drops of rain now and then.

The woods of “Kinloch Ravine” to the northeast of Kinloch Farm were surveyed in 1986 but the site spreads over three tetrads in two hectads and records were not kept separate. Also not far away is the Allt nam Criopag which turns out to have a very impressive and long gorge which, apart from the lower end, can only be accessed at rather few points.

Most plants recorded from the woods were re-found yesterday and assigned to 1 km squares. A few remain that would have been nice to sort out but which were unlikely this early in the year such as Carex pallescens (Pale Sedge), Melampyrum pratense (Common Cow-wheat) and Trollius europaeus (Globeflower).  However, there was a very pleasing colony of Orthilia secunda (Serrated Wintergreen), a new hectad record and only the second site in the south of Skye. It is about 5m up a vertical cliff above the river:

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Kinloch site for Orthilia

With a little zoom one can see the one-sided infructescence with straight exserted styles and on one image with the eye of faith, serrated leaf margins. The only other possibility is Pyrola media (Intermediate Wintergreen) but as well as the one-sidedness and probable serrations, the general growth form is typical of Orthilia.  (I wish I had had my other camera with me; it is better at the telephoto effect.)

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Kinloch Orthilia

On to Allt nam Criopag where seven 1968 records from John Birks demanded a search, even though it is March. A small patch of Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady’s-mantle) was located whilst Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry), Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) and Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Cowberry) were in a number of sites – and elsehere in the general area.  Lathyrus linifolius (Bitter-vetch), Thalictrum alpinum (Alpine Meadow-rue) and Trollius europaeus (Globeflower) await another visit (maybe).

Holly had mines of the fly Phytomyza ilicis (Holly Leafminer) and on dead leaves the spore bodies of the fungus Trochila ilicina (Holly Speckle), the latter being apparently the less frequent locally.

This fungus growing on a long-dead detached lump of unidentifiable tree looked distinctive but so far I haven’t a clue as to its identity:

 

 

Fungus on Figwort

March 22, 2019

Scrophularia nodosa (Common Figwort) is common enough locally and grows in my garden as a weed. It does not spread too much and I am always happy to let a few specimens flourish. A while back I noticed that last year’s capsules had small black dots on them and a few days ago I took some images and sent them to Bruce who tells me it is Didymella commanipula. He says it supposed to common though he has never seen it. There are only two records on NBN and seven on FRDBI (Fungal Records Database of Britain & Ireland) with none from Scotland on either database. If it is common it appears to be massively under-recorded.

Rare Fungi

September 6, 2018

I found this on dead stems of Schoenoplectus lacustris (Common Club-rush) at Loch Lonachan last month:

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Fungus on Schoenoplectus lacustris

Bruce says it “seems to be the imperfect stage of Myriosclerotinia scirpicola.  This is rare and most interesting.”

The Crinodendron hookerianum (Chile Lantern Tree) at Dunvegan has leaf spots and these just may be new to science – they have certainly floored Bruce even after a literature search.

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Fungus on Crinodendron hookerianum

Seth has kindly agreed to get a specimen to Bruce who will send it to Kew.

Update: Bruce thinks it is Phyllosticta crinodendrin, apparently not previously recorded outside South America.

Thursday

September 2, 2018

On Thursday I joined Skye Nature Group’s excursion to look for fungi, though as usual we looked at other things as well. Near the Crinodendron hookerianum (Lantern Tree) we found a fairly mature Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey Cypress) and a Laburnum looking pretty sick with fungi growing out of it. This one is clearly not the hybrid as it had many seeds per pod and I think it is Laburnum alpinum (Scottish Laburnum). In an ideal world I will go back a bit earlier next season to make sure.

I also spotted Erica vagans (Cornish Heath):

 

There must be something about SNG meetings as it was at the very first one last October that we made the first localised record for this plant in the vice-county.

The fungi were many and various and Seth has written the visit up here. Here are just a couple to whet your appetite (or not):

 

Afterwards I went to the Knott area to check a few things and found Origanum vulgare (Wild Marjoram) – the herb sold as Oregano – by the roadside, obviously escaped or thrown out from a garden. I find it spreads rapidly by seed in my garden.

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Origanum vulgare (Wild Marjoram)

I took my grapnel to a nearby loch to find out what the pondweed was in the middle of it. Even from the shore back in June it was clearly not the usual Potamogeton polygonifolius (Bog Pondweed) or Potamogeton natans (Broad-leaved Pondweed). It turned out to be Potamogeton perfoliatus (Perfoliate Pondweed), so nothing exotic.

I also took a specimen of the Inula hookeri (Hooker’s Fleabane) to check whether it is actually I. orientalis (Georgian Fleabane) as Mike had pointed out that they are very similar. However, both his and my searches for glandular hairs have been inconclusive – the relevant key in Sell & Murrell being ambiguous. It may be possible to sort this out later from achenes.

Inula hookeri leaf edge, stem & involucral bracts

Inula hookeri leaf edge, stem & involucral bracts

Inula glands underside 3a

Inula glands underside of leaf     Image: M. Wilcox

Glenmore

September 2, 2018

Glenmore, south-west of Portree, is in a tetrad that needed more work so yesterday I had a go. The Glenmore River joins the Abhainn an Acha-leathain to form the River Snizort within the tetrad of interest and there is the roadside and an extensive area of bog, so even though it is now September I came away with 159 vascular plant records including Utricularia minor (Lesser Bladderwort) still in flower (or in flower again):

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Utricularia minor (Lesser Bladderwort)

This leaves 14 tetrads in VC104 that are >5% land but have fewer than 50 post-1999 records. A further 28 have 50 to 79. (“Land” includes freshwater bodies.)

Also, there was Pustula tragopogonis on Cirsium heterophyllum (Melancholy Thistle) which I have only seen once before:

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Pustula tragopogonis on Cirsium heterophyllum

 

Waternish

August 26, 2018

Geary Ravine is one of our riches botanical sites on Skye but yesterday I reached the top end of it and turned my back so as to record what looked like a seriously dull tetrad. At different times Carl (2006) and I (2012) had made a few records whilst passing through. We had amassed a total of 47 taxa.  The best bet to improve that score seemed to be to walk up the Abhainn a’ Ghlinne and indeed after half an hour I had added a further forty. Four hours later the taxa count was up to 111.

I also made a foray into NG26K to the south and at the top of Ben Geary I found Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow), new to NG26 and infected with Rhytisma salicinum (Willow Tarspot).

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Rhytisma salicinum on Ben Geary

Additionally, some leaves had clearly been browsed by something small:

salix herb grazed

Salix herbacea grazed

There were masses of Twin-Spot Carpet moths but most pleasing was a Common Lizard making use of the only piece of litter I saw to warm up:

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Common Lizard

It had clearly regrown its tail at some point.

I did quite well for invertebrate and fungus records, but nothing of great rarity.

Recent Insects and a Tar-spot Fungus

July 29, 2018

I’ve not been plant-hunting as such this last week but here are a few recent sightings:

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Dark Arches found in the house

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Map-winged Swift

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Barred Yellow

From Acer campestre (Field Maple), a planted specimen on Raasay, a flower bug:

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Anthocoris nemoralis, not the commoner A. nemorum

And from the top of Dun Caan, Raasay:

Willow Tarspot on Salix herbacea

Willow Tarspot on Salix herbacea

Glen Sligachan

July 6, 2018

Yesterday I walked well over 15 miles from Sligachan, south to Loch an Athain, up Meall Dearg, into Harta Corrie and back. This took me past the Bloody Stone, the site of a fierce encounter between the Macdonalds and the Macleods, the bodies of the slain being piled round the base of a huge rock, topped by a Rowan tree.

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The Bloody Stone

More peaceably, I added lots of plant records at low level to tetrads with small numbers of previous records – mostly the alpines that attract folks to the higher levels. That said, much of the Cuillin is not species-rich.

I spent too long diverting to Loch an Athain in order to improve the recent plant list for tetrad NG52B (higher level covered recently) and climbing Meall Dearg, so that my time in Harta Corrie was distinctly limited.  The climb up Meall Dearg was not useful in itself, the hill being devoid of interesting plants, though the views were good.

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Loch an Athain from Meall Dearg

However, the lochans to the southwest were lovely.  Harta Corrie is spectacular and deserves a dedicated visit; even after this visit the relevant tetrad taxon list stands at a mere 57 vascular plants.

It is certainly dry out there:

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Allt nam Fraoch-Choire

In passing I found the smut Anthracoidea karii on Carex echinata (Star Sedge) for the first time this year (in a new 10km square):

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Anthracoidea karii

and also spotted Claviceps purpurea (Ergot) on Anthoxanthum odoratum (Sweet Vernal-grass):

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Eilean nan Each

June 27, 2018

Eilean nan Each (Horse Island) lies off northwest Muck and sits conveniently within a single 1 km square of the National Grid. The island was visited in the 1938 by King’s College, University of Durham (now Newcastle University), in the 1960/70s by the Dobsons who lived on Muck and wrote a flora, by my predecessor as vice-county recorder C W Murray plus two colleagues in 1996 and also by N Taylor in 1996.

However, no records have been made since then until yesterday when I travelled with Nick (bryophytes), Bob (birds) and Roger & Pat (mammals). It is quite floristically rich with several orchid species. We found large numbers of Platanthera bifolia (Lesser Butterfly-orchid) including some pretty robust specimens.

 

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Platanthera bifolia (Lesser Butterfly-orchid)

and added Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid) to the island list

Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid)

Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid)

but failed to find the previously recorded Coeloglossum viride (Frog Orchid).

As on other small islands it seems to me that Greylag Geese are changing the vegetation as evidenced by the addition of plants like Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s-purse) and Matricaria discoidea (Pineappleweed) to the list.

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Capsella & Matricaria

As usual I recorded some rusts, galls and insects. We had a good selection of butterflies including Painted Ladies and I think this fungus on Caltha palustris (Marsh-marigold) may be Puccinia calthae, with few records on NBN and only one in VC104. I await Bruce’s verdict. Later: He says Puccinia calthicola. (No VC104 records on NBN).

Puccinia calthae maybe

Puccinia calthae maybe

This micro-moth, Keith tells me, is Chrysoteuchia culmella (Garden Grass-Veneer).

ENE Micro 2

Garden Grass-Veneer