Posts Tagged ‘Fungi’

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

Boreraig & Creag an Daraich

June 7, 2018

I walked in from the east, parking at Heast. There were 1996 records of Eupatorium cannabinum (Hemp-agrimony), Saxifraga aizoides (Yellow Saxifrage) and Ulmus glabra (Wych Elm) from the Allt na Peighinn waterfall. They were all still present, as were Carex remota (Remote Sedge) and Geum urbanum (Wood Avens).

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Allt na Peighinn waterfall

Up on Creag an Daraich I refound Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle), though just over the border from the tetrad where it was recorded in 1998. I didn’t manage Ophioglossum vulgatum (Adder’s-tongue), also 1998, but I ran out of time at that end of the trip having spent too long peering at things on the way.

Vulpia bromoides (Squirreltail Fescue) was plentiful on one of the old houses at Boreraig – and new to NG60.

I saw my first Six-spot Burnet imago of the year:

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Six-spot Burnet

my first definite Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary of the year:

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Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

this fly, which is probably Chrysopilus cristatus (Black Snipefly):

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Black Snipefly probably

and Phragmidium rosa-pimpinellifoliae on Rosa spinosissima:

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Phragmidium rosa-pimpinellifoliae

 

 

Bornesketaig and Fiskavaig

May 7, 2018

I have been chasing up records of plants that are known in particular 10km squares but have not been see there since before 2000. Near Bornesketaig I was after Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress) for NG37 but failed. However, I succeeded with Eriophorum vaginatum (Hare’s-tail Cottongrass) and Phalaris arundinacea (Reed Canary-grass). There really wasn’t a lot of suitable habitat for the former but the latter is all over the place at Camas Mòr – I must have just left it off the list on my previous visit.

Today I went after Nymphaea alba (White Water-lily) for NG33 near Fiskavaig. That was easy enough given previous record details and I was pleased to add Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) as new to NG33.

Two species of orchid were in flower:

as was Lathyrus linifolius (Bitter-vetch):

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Lathyrus linifolius (Bitter-vetch)

There were several lots of Heath Navel (Lichenomphalia umbellifera), one Palmate Newt in a puddle and lots of these small flies on the Ficaria verna subsp. fertilis (Lesser Celandine).

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Finding Old Hectad Records

April 22, 2018

If one analyses plant records for the vice-county by hectad (10km squares of the National Grid), there are a great many plants that have been found in the past but not since 1999 or earlier.

Some of these are errors and many offer no assistance in relocating them e.g. Carex sylvatica (Wood-sedge), NG45, 1950-2005.

A few days ago Roger sent me a record for Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) in Sleat and some images:

Arctostahylos (2)

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry)    Image: R. Cottis

Previously, the only record for NG60 was a 1967 record at “Allt a’ Cham-aird, NG60”. Unfortunately, as the Allt a’ Cham-aird runs through two tetrads, it has not been possible to allocate a tetrad let alone a monad to this record. Now, with Roger’s record there is both a tetrad and a recent record.

Looking at the distribution map I realised that there were other hectads where a visit might have the same effect – in those cases where a location was given. I always forget that Arctostaphylos is a bit sporadic on Skye, as it is widespread on Raasay. So, on excursions in the past week I have re-found it in NG43 at the far NE corner (Allt Osglan, last recorded 1970) and at the southern edge (Allt Coire Darach, 1986). On the Allt Coire Darach excursion I also re-found Juniper from 1986.

Extending this approach to other species, I found Nymphaea alba (White Water-lily) in NG42 for the first time this millennium – not far from Sligachan. I intend to do this for NG33 next.

There are a great many more species I could approach this way… at least it is keeping me amused until the season is sufficiently advanced to make tetrad-bashing worthwhile. Also, it sends me to spots I haven’t visited before. It is the intermediate species in terms of frequency of occurrence that particularly benefit from this, as rare ones are monitored and common ones are, well, common.

NG42 has a particular problem in that there appear to be very large numbers of species not re-found, but I think this is the result of finds made on Skye but given no grid reference being dumped in this central hectad at some point in the past.

As a special treat here is some sheep dung:

Sheep dropping fungus

with Cheilymenia vitellina or C. fimicola (probably).

Close-up:

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Fungi on Plants

March 25, 2018

I noticed leaf spots on cyclamen in the garden which Bruce tells me are caused by Septoria cyclaminis:

Septoria cyclaminis on Cyclamen

Septoria cyclaminis on Cyclamen hederifolium

and yesterday Murdo told me he was finding small black fruiting bodies on dead Narthecium ossifragum (Bog Asphodel). A quick look today confirmed that they all seem to have them:

narth ossi fungus

There are at least four fungi recorded as growing on this plant in the Hebrides, so I shall await Bruce’s verdict on this one. Later: Bruce says it “appears to be Microdiplodia narthecii.  I have not noticed it myself but I expect that it is widespread.  There are several records from further south a century ago.”

Musings on Mycoheterotrophs

March 13, 2018

The recent rediscovery of a plant called Thismia neptunis (Fairy Lanterns) in western Sarawak, 151 years after its only previous record (doi.org/ck3p) leads me to blog about “mycoheterotrophs”.

Thismia neptunis

Thismia neptunis            Image from M Sochor et al.

These are plants like T. neptunis that parasitise fungi and generally have no or very little chlorophyll and therefore cannot make their own food. Until quite recently these plants were commonly called saprophytes – though there was never any experimental evidence to support the myth that these plants derive their carbon directly from decaying plant material. Even the New Atlas of the British Flora (Preston et al., 2002) describes the four higher-plant species of mycoheterotroph in the UK (Neottia nidus-avis (Bird’s-nest Orchid), Corallorhiza trifida (Coralroot Orchid), Epipogium aphyllum (Ghost Orchid) and Hypopitys monotropa (Yellow Bird’s-nest)) as ‘saprophytic perennial herbs of leaf litter’.

Neottia nidus-avis (Bird’s-nest Orchid) is recorded from Skye and Raasay in a few locations – seen here near Fiskavaig in 2009:

Neot nid Skye 2009 2

The mycoheterotrophs comprise over 400 plant species in 87 genera that are parasitic upon fungi, and exploit them as their principle source of carbon. In addition, there are estimated to be over 30,000 species, comprising approximately 10% of the plant kingdom, that depend upon mycoheterotrophy for establishment from dust seeds or spores. (Jonathan R. Leake, Mycologist, Volume 19, Part 3 August 2005 p113-122.)

So ….. never call a vascular plant a saprophyte!

Skye Nature Group – First Meeting

October 19, 2017

We were fortunate with the weather for the inaugural meeting in Kinloch Woods led by Steve Terry, which 11 people attended. Lichens and fungi took a lot of our interest but we spotted various other things as well.

We found Erica vagans (Cornish Heath) growing by the forest track – presumably escaped form Kinloch Lodge – or deliberately planted. There is only one previous record for Skye and that is vague both in date and location (1987-1999, NG44) and may be an error. I will look into that in more detail.

Erica vagans Kinloch

Erica vagans

There is more on the Skye Naturalists’ Network Facebook page and we are hoping to start a Skye Nature Group blog soon. My other contributions included this rather common bug that I knocked off hazel leaves (Anthocoris nemorum (Common Flower Bug)):

Anthocoris nemorum

Anthocoris nemorum

though I notice that three of the four previous post-1999 records for VC104 on the NBN Atlas are mine(!) and a leaf spot fungus on Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove) that I have yet to get named. Later: Ramularia variabilis . Thanks, Bruce.

LS on Digitalis

No Trees

October 4, 2017

Yesterday, I went looking for Sorbus rupicola (Rock Whitebeam) at some known sites in the Elgol and Kilmarie/Drinan areas. I didn’t find any. However, I do know one very good site for it around there – and there is plenty of possible ground to cover, at least in one area.  It grows on cliffs and is usually only present in small numbers. One day I shall have another go.

However, it was a good day. I checked several areas of roadside for Juncus bufonius/ranarius and was relieved to find that they were all the former which is what I have been commonly recording. Whilst J. ranarius is to be found in that habitat, it appears to be in the minority.

I am always pleased to see Carex otrubae (False Fox-sedge), which is always coastal here:

Carex otrubae Elgol

Carex otrubae at Elgol

I was briefly uncertain as to the identity of a thicket on the hillside, but when I got close, it turned out to have arisen from a fallen Gean (Prunus avium):

Prunus avium thicket

Some of the larger stems are showing the distinctive bark:

Prunus avium bark

Near Kilmarie and Drinan some Parnassia palustris (Grass-of-Parnassus) was still in flower:

Parnassia Kilmarie area 171003.jpg

Parnassia palustris

Less welcome was the large number of Cotoneaster integrifolius (Entire-leaved Cotoneaster) plants:

Cotoneaster integrifolius S of Kilmarie

Cotoneaster integrifolius

I recorded a number of plant pathogenic fungi. This sycamore leaf has Rhytisma acerinum (Tar Spot), Cristulariella depraedens (Sycamore White Spot) and galls caused by mites:

Sycamore leaf with fungi & galls