Posts Tagged ‘Plants’


January 31, 2021

The weather and lockdown have limited activity considerably, but I have managed a few things such as second records for Raasay for Cupressus lawsoniana (Lawson’s Cypress) and Olearia macrodonta (New Zealand Holly), the former planted, the latter looking self-sown.

Yesterday the gorse near the shore yielded a spider, Metellina sp.

Metellina sp.

and several types of fly:

A window gnat. Sylvicola sp. probably S.cinctus

If it hadn’t escaped I could have got it to species as Seth pointed me towards a relatively simple key to the four British species. Also, there were a couple of Black Flies (I’m not tackling them), a common seaweed fly Coelopa frigida, though not so common in January, and a Heteromyza, possibly H. commixta but perhaps H. rotundicornis – it may be possible to sort this out with expert help. Later: confirmed as H. commixta.

Thanks to Seth (flies) and Katie (spider) for identifaction.

James’ Videos

December 7, 2020

James Merryweather posts videos on YouTube under the AuchtertyreAcademy imprint that may be of interest e.g.

BLUEBELL deconstructing the English Jacinth. Part 1: Identity
BLUEBELL deconstructing the English Jacinth. Part 2: Life History
BRAINWAVE OR PIPEDREAM? will tree planting save us from climate change?
GORSE: NURSERY FOR WOODLAND an ecological process vs destructive management
IS IT A FERN? (part1)
IS IT A FERN? (part 2) Now I can tell that’s not a fern, but . . .

In the garden: Moths, Fungi & That Bramble

November 18, 2020

Two new moths have taken my total for adult moths here to 199 species:

There are fungi everywhere at the moment, but two pink ones in the garden recently are Coral Spot (Nectria cinnabarina)and Wood Blewit (Lepista nuda), both common enough generally but with rather few records locally. (None in VC104 on NBN for the latter.)

Meanwhile, it is looking more likely that the bramble in the last post is in fact Rubus subinermoides as determined by Alan Newton when he stayed with me in 2007, though I am waiting for a view on the pink petals.

Botanical Matters

November 5, 2020

It turns out that the bramble Rubus subinermoides recorded on Raasay and elsewhere in Scotland may in fact be different from R. subinermoides in England where the type species was first recorded. Amongst other things the large pink petals aren’t right. Those more skilled than I in batology will sort this out – it may be that a new microspecies will be recognised.

These pictures are from one of these plants on my drive yesterday:

I also spotted a single tree of Acer saccharinum (Silver Maple) in Inverarish. It was planted maybe a decade ago and is doing well, though last weekend’s storm did some damage.

Recent Sightings

October 29, 2020

An excursion to Skye meant I happened across Tropaeolum speciosum (Flame Nasturtium) sprawling over gorse near Lynedale.

Tropaeolum speciosum
Tropaeolum speciosum

This is a first for VC104, the sixth this year and, like most of the others, not a native.

Here at home, a caterpillar climbing up the outside wall of the house unexpectedly turned out to be that of a Small White butterfly. Green-veined Whites occur in huge numbers, but I have never recorded an adult Small White. Phil had some freshly-emerged adults in Sleat earlier in the year, so they are clearly now breeding locally.

Following the unsuccessful determination of an Epirrita moth recently, this morning I had two Autumnal Moths (Epirrita autumnata). This is most probably what the previous one was too.

Epirrita autumnata

Meanwhile, I am hoping for help with this Cranefly which is probably Tipula pagana.

Tipula pagana?

October Plants

October 19, 2020

Solanum nigrum (Black Nightshade) has been recorded at Cleadale on Eigg – a first for VC104.

Solanum nigrum on Eigg Image Neil Robertson

There are recent records from islands to the south, outside my patch – Coll and Colonsay.

Nick has found one or two more locations for Ulex gallii (Western Gorse) – one needs checking as only spotted from a moving vehicle.

In Kilmore, Sleat, I found a churchyard full of flowering Hieracium (Hawkweed). I would suggest that it had been mown and then flowered late, but across the road in very rough ground there were one or two specimens of the same plant, also flowering. I have sent a specimen away for determination.

Hawkweeds in October

Later: David McCosh says, “Your plant cannot be identified to species. There are many plants occurring throughout the UK which are currently undescribed and are known collectively and informally  as  H. exotericum agg. They share certain characters such as having a rosette, usually 0-1 cauline leaf, and predominantly glandular peduncles and phyllaries. S & M warn that all plants akin to these are plastic in their growth and should not be collected after mid July!”


October 6, 2020

Seth has spotted a Mock-orange bush near the river at Budhmor:

Philadelphus near Budhmor Image S. Gibson

The underside of the leaves are pretty hairy suggesting that it is one of the hybrid groups, in which case full identification will have to wait until there are flowers next year.

Underside of leaf

More Plant Matters

September 25, 2020

Seth had a good day on Wednesday, finding two plants that are new to the vice-county. Firstly, Persicaria wallichii (Himalayan Knotweed) has encroached onto the road verge from a garden near Loch Bay House in Waternish:

Persicaria wallichii (Himalayan Knotweed) Image SJD Gibson

One of the key fatures of this species is the unequal petals:

Persicaria wallichii flower

Then he spotted Poterium sanguisorba subsp. balearicum (Fodder Burnet) beside a track at Edinbane.

Poterium sanguisorba subsp. balearicum (Fodder Burnet)
Poterium sanguisorba subsp. balearicum Image SJD GIbson

This plant is closely related to Poterium sanguisorba subsp. sanguisorba (Salad Burnet) and as the name suggests, used to be grown for fodder. However, it has also been included in “wildflower” seed mixes.

Meanwhile, Joanna has spotted Ulex gallii (Western Gorse) at two new sites on the Harlosh peninsula. This is a pretty rare plant on Skye though the golden yellow flowers now in evidence (with associated withered flowers rather than buds) make it stand out from a distance.

Ulex gallii (Western Gorse)

Mostly the common Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is not flowering at the moment but a few pieces are.

Ulex europaeus on left and Ulex gallii on right

Amongst other differences, in U. gallii the flowers are smaller and deeper yellow and the calyx has appressed rather than spreading hairs.

Yesterday I went to see these sites with Joanna and Julian and thus encouraged, I managed to re-find a 1998 site for U. gallii near Lonmore.


September 20, 2020

I was away for a couple of weeks, but here are a few items from before or after, mostly seen with Seth and/or Neil.

Acleris emargana Notch-winged Tortrix

Galls caused by the sawfly Euura venusta on Salix caprea (Goat Willow)

This Grey Dagger larva attached itself to me in the garden and then fell off onto the carpet. I took its picture before escorting it out again:

Grey Dagger larva

A seashore excursion to see Neil’s extensive Eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows in the sea at Harlosh sadly did not lead to any seahorse sightings. (There are records this far north, but not from Skye.)

Zostera marina at Harlosh

It was the equinoctial tide and we found many interesting critters such as a Stalked Jellyfish Calvadosia campanulata, a Tube Anemone Cerianthus lloydii, Risso’s Crab (Xantho pilipes), Star Ascidian (Botryllus schlosseri) and the Small Brittlestar (Amphipholis squamata).

Risso’s Crab

A Small Tree

September 19, 2020

I have not been able to identify a small tree at Gedintailor on Skye that was found a few weeks ago.

Tree at Gedintailor

My initial thoughts were of Prunus sp. but then these ear-like stipules suggested a Salix.


There were the remains of inflorescences:

Remains of inflorescence

There are Prunus-like glands on some of the petioles

Twig & upper side of leaves

Having shared images with various experienced botanists, the consensus is that this is a member of the Rosaceae (e.g. Prunus). However, I think it will have to wait for flowers next spring to be sorted out fully.