Posts Tagged ‘Galls’


June 30, 2018

Joyce showed me around Knott on Thursday and we added 79 plants to the list for tetrad NG35W which was clearly a bit under-recorded previously.  There were lots of Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid) and Platanthera chlorantha (Greater Butterfly-orchid) and also many Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Common Spotted-orchid), plus a few planted specimens opposite a garden. Near Tayinloan Lodge there was a lot of what I think is naturalised Sorbaria sorbifolia (Sorbaria) as well as the Lysichiton americanus (American Skunk-cabbage) that Joyce had told me about earlier in the year. There is also a mature planted Chilean Flame Tree (Embothrium coccineum), but I don’t think it merits formal recording.

I went on to the north to Rubha nan Cudaigean and added 61 plants to the list for that tetrad, earlier records all being from the other side of Loch Snizort Beag around Kingsburgh. Nice things included Blysmus rufus (Saltmarsh Flat-sedge) and Carex oederi (Small-fruited Yellow-sedge).

I didn’t do well with the camera but I shall go back for a pondweed that I couldn’t reach without a grapnel, so may take a few more photos next time.

Here is a Hawthorn Gall that may be caused by Dysaphis ranunculi, the Hawthorn-buttercup mealy gall aphid, but if it turns red later it may be one of the Dysaphis crataegi group (the Hawthorn-umbellifer aphids).


Dysaphis ranunculi gall, maybe



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

Meall Port (Mhealaraig)

August 27, 2017

The track between Kinloch and Kylerhea is like the curate’s egg – good in parts – especially at this time of year with the bracken at its peak. Close to the middle is Meall Port and until yesterday the tetrads there were virtually unrecorded: NG71N (84% land) had two plants recorded and NG71M (1% land) nil.

The track from Kinloch into NG71N is mostly pretty good and took me through other tetrads that benefited from more effort, notably a corner of NG71I which had only 25 taxa recorded.

So, 0, 2 and 25 have been improved to 101, 122 and 100 and I also added 50 to NG71H and 8 to NG71C.

Highlights included Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble) and Stachys sylvatica (Hedge Woundwort) which are common species (present in >200 tetrads in VC104) that had not been recorded in the 10km square NG71 since before 2000.  There are still six taxa in this category including three Equisetum spp. – and certainly I never saw a single horsetail yesterday.

Both the coastal tetrads M and N had Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern) where a burn enters the sea – the only previous record for NG71 was undated (1971-1986 ) and unlocalised.

Osmunda regalis

Osmunda regalis

Also Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort):

Lycopus europaeus LR

Lycopus europaeus

plus Carex otrubae (False Fox-sedge) and Senecio sylvaticus (Heath Groundsel) and several sites for Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) and Carex laevigata (Smooth-stalked Sedge).

Things in flower, Dactylorhiza maculata (Heath Spotted-orchid) and Hyacinthoides non-scripta (Bluebell) (!):

There were spangle galls on Quercus robur (Pedunculate Oak) caused by the cynipid wasp Neuroterus quercusbaccarum.

Spangle Galls

Spangle Galls

and this bee-mimic, the hoverfly Eristalis pertinax, which is apparently common – but as for many insects there are limited Skye records on the NBN Atlas – and none in NG71.

DSC05100 cropped

Eristalis pertinax



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).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 of 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.