Posts Tagged ‘Galls’

New Things – Updated

April 20, 2017

Seth has found one of the Heuchera tribe of Saxifragaceae in the Uig Woods. I initially thought, without looking too closely to be honest, that it was Tellima grandiflora (Fringecups) as this is known in a few spots on Skye and Raasay, but David Broughton remarked that it looked like Mitella (or Pectiantia) ovalis (Bishop’s Cap / Oval-leaved Mitrewort). After some digging around I have to agree. Native to the western coast of North America, seeds are available in the UK, but as far as I can tell this is the first record of it in the wild in The British Isles.

Tellima Uig

Mitella ovalis                       Photo: S Gibson

I have put a link to Seth’s blog, “Skye’s The Limit” on my blog roll.

Sean found flowering Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) at Kilmory, Rum a couple of days ago, refreshing a 1983 record for that tetrad:

Orchis mascula at Kilmory

Orchis mascula                    Photo: S. Morris

Steve has found an interesting gall on Plantago lanceolata (Ribwort Plantain) which we think is caused by the chytrid fungus Synchytrium erieum. This is described as rare in British Plant Galls (Redfern & Shirley).

Plantago lanceolata gall (Steve Terry) 2

Gall on Plantago lanceolata            Photo: S. Terry

Doire nam Feannag

April 9, 2017

I went to see a clubmoss that Murdo has spotted near Loch Meodal – Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss) (ignoring the possibility of L. lagopus). This is a plant that could do with more current records. It has a tendency to disappear from known sites and reappear elsewhere, making re-finding old records a bit tricky. However, some populations do last for a very long time.

Lycopdium clavatum LR

Lycopodium clavatum near Loch Meodal

A bit to the northwest, Doire nam Feannag is grazed, unlike the fenced Coille a’ Chuaraidh across the road, but retains a pretty good woodland flora especially on the rocky outcrops.  There is a huge amount of Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) and the dead oak leaves both here and across the road show a pattern that I think is the aftermath of galls, perhaps Spangle Galls:

oak galled

Something to look out for later in the year.

The Eriophorum vaginatum (Hare’s-tail Cottongrass)is in full flower:

Eriophorum angustifolium

Eriophorum vaginatum

Sgùrr na Coinnich and Beinn Bhuidhe

August 9, 2016

Yesterday I ascended Sgùrr na Coinnich in the hope of finding some old records from the area. I had some successes: Luzula spicata (Spiked Wood-Rush) on Sgùrr na Coinnich and Parnassia palustris (Grass-of-Parnassus) by the Allt Beinn Bhuidhe, but also a number of failures: Gnaphalium supinum (Dwarf Cudweed), Oxyria digyna (Mountain Sorrel) and Persicaria vivipara (Alpine Bistort) last recorded around there in 1983, 1975 and 1967 respectively.

The plateau of Beinn Bhuidhe continues to harbour Arctostaphylos alpinus (Alpine Bearberry) as it has since at least 1772. Also Hieracium holosericeum (Shaggy Hawkweed), one of very few Hieracium species I am able to determine and that Lycopodium that I mentioned earlier in the year. Having had another good look at it, I think it is just environmentally stressed Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss).

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I found a variety of leaf spots and other fungi and sawfly galls on Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow), such as I have only seen on the Trotternish Ridge before.

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On the way back to the road there was a single bush of Juniperus communis subsp. communis (Common Juniper) – unusual hereabouts compared with the dwarf subspecies.

Juniperus comm comm

and a bright yellow fungus, I am asking Bruce for help with

Later: He tells me this is Lichenomphalia alpina.

Yellow job

and a lizard – far too fast for me to obtain a useful image.

Loch Coruisk

July 24, 2016

On Friday I took the boat from Elgol and had six hours at Loch Coruisk. The scenery was, of course, dramatic, but the plants largely confirmed the view that mountains that are good for mountaineers are not great for botanists.  Mind you, I did no climbing and there were a few things of note such as Salix phylicifolia (Tea-leaved Willow) which is known elsewhere near burns in NG42 but not in the south end where these were.

I also spotted four plants in NG41 that had not been recorded since before 2000 and two in NG42, though one of these was a tiny sapling of Viburnum opulus (Guelder-rose) which looks unlikely to survive the winter.

Some of the pools had these features in them which I imagine, perhaps rather fancifully, are caused by erupting gas from rotting vegetation:


The only rich area was near the Coruisk Memorial Hut where there were some relatively interesting cliffs and rocks, freshwater marsh and salt marsh. Here in tetrad NG41Z I found 127 species including some I hadn’t been expecting like Galeopsis tetrahit s.s. (Common Hemp-nettle) and Odontites vernus (Red Bartsia).

There was lots of Rosa spinosissima (Burnet Rose) growing in some of the freshwater beaches of Loch Coruisk and some actually in the river at its current level.

Rosa spin in river

Rosa spinosissima in Coruisk River

Some had this gall on it, caused by the gall wasp Diplolepis spinosissimae:

Diplolepis spinosissimae galls

D. spinosissimae galls

I found this a couple of years ago at Talisker Bay but there remain very few records on the NBN Gateway.

I also spotted these leaf mines on Lonicera periclymenum (Honeysuckle). The miners are yet to be definitively identified. Later: Murdo and I have agreed it is larvae of the Dipteran fly Chromatomyia aprilina based on the long streaks of frass. See British Leafminers page.

North of Romesdal

May 30, 2016

With the Skye Botany Group excursion tomorrow but the car already at Sconser, today was an opportunity for a gentle stroll so I visited two tetrads north of Romesdal (between Kensaleyre and Earlish).

I didn’t stray that far from the road apart from a wander up the Lòn Ruadh, but ended up with between 140 and 150 vascular plant taxa in each tetrad – previous records had been a bit thin at 88 and definitely thin at 43 taxa.

On the butterfly front, I saw my first Small Heath of the year plus several Green-veined Whites- they have been around recently.

Small Heath

This rust was on Ribes sanguineum (Flowering Currant), which I am reasonably confident is caused by Puccinia caricina.

Gall on Ribes sang

The plant highlight was another, in this case previously unrecorded, large colony of Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail) on the verge of the road along Glen Hinnisdal.

On the way home I paused briefly at Sligachan and managed to find Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress), the only previous record in NG42 also being from Sligachan, though not in the same spot, in 1979.


July 16, 2015

The SWT expedition yesterday was on probably the best day of the year so far weather-wise. I was able to do some good in the under-recorded 10 km square NG63 adding 10 new taxa:

Asplenium trichomanes subsp. quadrivalens (Maidenhair Spleenwort) – only new at the subspecies level

Cirsium heterophyllum (Melancholy Thistle) (This one was found by Bill & Deirdre)
Conopodium majus (Pignut)
Cystopteris fragilis (Brittle Bladder-fern)
Fraxinus excelsior (Ash)
Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid)

 Gymnadenia borealis

Gymnadenia borealis

Juncus bufonius (Toad Rush)
Melampyrum pratense (Common Cow-wheat)

Melampyrum as an epiphyte!

Melampyrum as an epiphyte!

Silene dioica (Red Campion)
Rosa caesia subsp. vosagiaca  (Glaucous Dog-rose)

Quite a few more plants were recorded for the first time in NG63 since before 2000 (often long before 2000) e.g. Allium ursinum (Ramsons), Chrysosplenium oppositifolium (Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage), Dryopteris filix-mas (Male-fern), Epilobium montanum (Broad-leaved Willowherb), Epilobium palustre (Marsh Willowherb), Pedicularis palustris (Marsh Lousewort), Polystichum aculeatum (Hard Shield-fern) and Selaginella selaginoides (Lesser Clubmoss).

Nick made two new county records of bryophytes: the hornwort Anthoceros punctatus on wet soil in Scalpay House garden and the leafy liverwort Calypogeia suecica on a decorticated rotten log.

I also enriched the list for tetrad NG62J, but pressing on…..

There were two places where the Holcus mollis (Creeping Soft-grass) was infected by the gall-causing fungus Epichloë clarkii:

Epichloë clarkii

Epichloë clarkii

This is a “choke” fungus that prevents flowering. Kew has no recent collection from Scotland so I am sending them a specimen.

I saw my first Carex smut of the year – the relatively common Anthracoidea karii on Carex echinata (Star Sedge) and the intertidal pools at one point had the alien seaweed Codium fragile:

Codium fragile

Codium fragile    “Green Sea Fingers”

Part of the shore with cliffs and caves had a nice collection of ferns including Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart’s-tongue), Asplenium trichomanes subsp. quadrivalens (Maidenhair Spleenwort), Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern), Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern) and Polystichum aculeatum (Hard Shield-fern).

Osmunda regalis on Scalpay

Osmunda regalis on Scalpay

Jean, Marie, Bill & Deirdre found the Nuphar lutea (Yellow Water-lily) doing well at its known site and Jean has a nice picture a flower with Enallagma cyathigerum (Common Blue Damselfly) on it. Other damsels and dragons were seen including Pyrrhosoma nymphula (Large Red Damselfly, Cordulegaster boltonii (Golden-ringed Dragonfly) and Aeshna juncea (Common Hawker)

A couple of adders had been seen the previous two days on the path that I walked but I missed them. David and Jeanette saw a common lizard and toads (or at least, toad tadpoles).

More from Rubh’ an Dùnain

June 16, 2015

Terry has sent me an image of a gall we spotted on the way back from Rubh’ an Dùnain. This is on Potentilla erecta (Tormentil) and is probably caused by the fungus, Taphrina potentillae.

Taphrina potentillae gall

Taphrina potentillae gall       Photo T Swainbank

Other species of interest yesterday included Anagallis tenella (Bog Pimpernel), and Polypodium interjectum (Intermediate Polypody), both new 10 km square records. We found 12 of the 18 common plants in VC104 that had not previously been recorded in NG31.

Raasay Miscellany

June 10, 2015

The launch of Patterns of Flora was a great success. For my part, about 70 people came on botanical walks – not all at once but in two groups to the wood on the Inver walk and one group to the Oskaig saltmarsh.

My seven-week old grandson and I spotted Carex sylvatica (Wood-sedge) in an unusual location on Sunday by the road:

Carex sylvatica Suisnish

Carex sylvatica Suisnish (1)

Carex sylvatica Suisnish (2)

Carex sylvatica Suisnish (2)

As he was asleep at the time, I have not included him as a recorder. Going back today to take the photos above, I discovered an area of about 10 square metres with Vicia sativa subsp. nigra (Narrow-leaved Vetch) running through it.

Vicia sativa subsp. nigra Suisnish (1)

Vicia sativa subsp. nigra Suisnish (1)

Vicia sativa subsp. nigra Suisnish (2)

Vicia sativa subsp. nigra Suisnish (2)

I will check the fruits when they appear to make sure that this is not Vicia lathyroides (Spring Vetch), but I don’t think it is. Vicia sativa subsp. nigra is uncommon on Raasay and in VC104 generally. This may have been brought in with soil from Alness in 2006 and not been spotted before today. Many other plants that sprung out of that soil did not reappear after the first season.

Meanwhile, in the garden the gooseberries are infected with Puccinia caricina var. pringsheimiana, a colourful rust that according to the second edition of British Plant Galls (2011) appears to be rarer than in the 1950s. The only VC104 records on NBN are from the Broadford area in 2006 and 2009.

Canna & Sanday

May 24, 2015

The current ferry timetable allows eight hours on Canna on a Saturday. So this weekend I took advantage of that and got good weather for six of the eight hours.

I spent most of the time on Sanday as, inspired by my recent week on North Uist, I wanted to look for early annuals on the sand dunes. That part was pretty unsuccessful as I didn’t even manage to re-find a 2001 record for Valerianella locusta (Common Cornsalad) and found none of the others I had half a hope for. There is still no record for Erophila on Canna.

Anyway, first I had to get from the ferry to Sanday and I had a look in Canna House garden where I found Ficaria verna subsp. verna (Lesser Celandine – the one with bulbils in the leaf axils). This is new to Canna and follows the pattern elsewhere in the vice-county of being in or near a big house garden. Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress) was also new to Canna.

The Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima (Sea Beet) that I found in 2009 has increased from 3 plants to 5. I have told NTS about it as it is just by their office and they are in a position to make sure that it is not suddenly bulldozed away.

Although the sand dunes were generally disappointing, the Ranunculus bulbosus (Bulbous Buttercup) was beginning to flower.

Ranunculus bulbosus        Note reflexed sepals

Ranunculus bulbosus                      Note reflexed sepals

Elsewhere the Mertensia maritima (Oysterplant) was also beginning to flower and one patch comprised a very healthy 60 plants.

Mertensia Sanday

Mertensia maritima

The overgrown lochan An t-Oban contained its usual goodies including most of VC 104’s Hypericum elodes (Marsh St John’s-wort) and the western end of Sanday had a great many flowering Scilla verna (Spring Squill) and Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid):

.Orchis mascula Sanday Scilla verna Canna

The dunes had lots of snails that appear to be Cornu aspersum, the Garden Snail. I was slightly surprised by this and brought a couple of empty shells home to check but that seems to be right and I find that at least in Ireland they are “Commonest in gardens and on sand dunes at the coast.” At least according to NBN, this will be a new record for NG20 post-1999.

On Canna I spotted the usual galls on thyme and rust on nettles.

Camas Mòr, Dùn Liath, etc

April 8, 2015

I had a useful day today recording in the partial tetrads NG37K (1 previous record) and NG36P (no previous records) plus considerable time in NG37Q where I was able to re-find three species for the 10km square NG37 not recorded since before 2000: Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern – last record 1970), Oreopteris limbosperma (Lemon-scented Fern – last record 1968) and Sambucus nigra (Elder – last record 1996).

Rubh a’ Chàirn Lèith

Rubh a’ Chàirn Lèith

The Allium ursinum (Ramsons) was ready for eating:


This toadstool, I suspect may not be (ever):

toadstoolThere was a plant of Ficaria verna subsp. fertilis (Lesser Celandine) with a fungal gall caused by a Uromyces sp.

IMG_4409AHowever, there are two of these which can only be distinguished microscopically by looking for refractive granules in the wallls of the aeciospores (don’t ask). A step too far for me I am afraid.