Posts Tagged ‘Plants’

Flying Eagle, Other Matters

November 9, 2017

The day started well with a golden eagle flying slowly past the window during breakfast, pursued by a heron and squads of hooded crows and herring gulls.

Last Saturday was the Scottish Annual Meeting of the Botanical Society of Scotland and the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland, held at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. It was an excellent day with 150 participants. For me the highlight was being able to compare herbarium specimens of Agrimonia eupatoria (Agrimony) and Agrimonia procera (Fragrant Agrimony). This confirmed my view that the Skye plants are the latter – see e.g. this previous post. To be even more certain, I have today sent a specimen to Douglas McKean at RBGE. Images of Skye specimen by Steve Terry:

 

Tuesday saw the second Skye Nature Group expedition which seems to have gone well – slugs and snails, pseudoscorpions, centipedes and white disco fungi featuring amongst other finds. I was sorry to miss it but had a better offer!

This coming Saturday (11th) is the Highland Biological Recording Group’s autumn meeting at Strathpeffer Community Centre, 10.30 for 11.00. The main talk is

Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms – A lesson in treasure hunting.

Gabrielle Flinn, Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms Project Officer

Also coming up soon:

Capture

Tormore Forest

October 26, 2017

A bit of a damp walk today along the track and out the north end led to another new site for Hypericum humifusum (Trailing St John’s-wort) and a first vice-county record for Schizostylis coccinea (Kaffir Lily), now apparently renamed Hesperantha coccinea.  It is amazing how far folks will drive to dump garden rubbish. This well-established clump is 800m along the track from the car park by the road.

Schizostylis coccineaTormore

On the Trail

October 24, 2017

Trailing St John’s-wort (Hypericum humifusum) gets its name from its growth form but pleasingly it is usually found on trails (tracks) in this part of the world. Whilst it is reasonably frequent on Eigg, elsewhere in the vice-county there are very few recent records, the only Skye ones being on the track to Dalavil – until Steve found it Leitir Fura track a few days ago.

Distinguished from trailing forms of the common Hypericum pulchrum (Slender St John’s-wort) by having three sepals longer and wider than the other two, plus petals <2x length of sepals, the whole plant also often has a whorled appearance.

IMG_5766a

Hypericum humifusum Photo: S. Terry

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

Hawkweeds on Muck

October 6, 2017

David McCosh has determined my 2017 Hieracium specimens. I realise this a niche activity but the three from Muck, H. argenteum (Silvery Hawkweed), H. deganwyense (Deganwy Hawkweed) and H. subrubicundum (Large-leaved Hawkweed) turned out to be new to Muck, with H. deganwyense new to VC104.

No pictures either, I am afraid.

 

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 &amp; galls

Loch Duagrich

September 30, 2017

The Skye Botany Group had such a good day at Loch Duagrich a couple of years ago, that we decided to go back armed with a bathyscope and a grapnel. The first throw of the grapnel produced a large quantity of Nitella translucens (Translucent Stonewort), a charophyte with very few records in the vice-county.  Maybe greater use of the grapnel would increase the known distribution quite a bit.

The other significant find was of this plant, which may be terrestrial Apium inundatum (Lesser Marshwort):

Plant from Loch Duagrich LR

Apium inundatum?

It was there two years ago. I had intended to return earlier in the season in the hope of finding a flower or fruit,  but forgot about it. It is on gravel beside the loch but not actually in the water. Opinions welcome! There are two undated, unlocalised and generally doubtful records for Skye, and the only certain population in VC104 appears to have gone from Sanday, so this would be a really nice find.

We collected specimens of Subularia aquatica (Awlwort) for the University of Toulouse and the Elatine hexandra (Six-stamened Waterwort) was doing well.

In passing we recorded 102 vascular plants in the monad NG3939; apart from Nitella translucens and maybe Apium inundatum, only Carex leporina (Oval Sedge) was new to the tetrad.

Afterwards I collected the few remaining fruits on a stand of Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed) near the Amar River for Mike Wilcox to have a look at, in order to determine the subspecies.

Latest Publications

September 28, 2017

The note written by myself and Seth concerning his discovery of Mitella ovalis (Bishop’s-cap) at Uig has now been published in BSBI News. It is available via a link here. My contribution to the October Raasay Community Newsletter concerns violets and pansies and will be available from the same page next week. Later: Now available.

Meanwhile here is a Small Wainscot from last night’s trap:

Moth 6 Small Wainscot

Small Wainscot

Frog Rush

September 15, 2017

Following the discovery of Juncus ranarius (Frog Rush) as a roadside plant as well as a coastal plant on Skye by Ian Green and the Wildflower Society. I found it in two roadside places myself during my Roadside Mud expedition.

Andy Amphlett and Ian have been finding it elsewhere in the Highlands e.g. along the A9 and I am now wondering just how much of the J. bufonius agg. along our main roads (of which there is plenty) belongs to this species. At the end of the day it is not too surprising that this salt-tolerant plant is among those found on our roadsides.

There only seem to be two reliable differences – the distal end of the inner tepals and the seed surface.

J bufonius &amp; ranarius tepals

Inner tepals: Juncus bufonius (LEFT) & J ranarius (RIGHT)       Photo M. Wilcox

Juncus bufonius agg seeds - A = J foliosus, B = J. bufonius, C = J ranarius

Juncus bufonius agg. seeds – A = J foliosus, B = J. bufonius, C = J ranarius

From Cope, T.A. & Stace, C.A. 1978. The Juncus bufonius L. aggregate in western Europe. Watsonia 12, 113-128.

I have included J. foliosus as that too is found in our area (rarely) but in very wet marshy areas – and that is distinctive in other ways such as having wider leaves.

Thanks to Mike, Ian and Andy for getting me up to speed with this.

Roadside Mud

September 7, 2017

On Tuesday, I toured quite a large part of Skye peering at muddy roadsides. My principal aim was to improve coverage for Centunculus minimus (Chaffweed) – so much easier than clambering along the rocky coasts that seem to be its natural habitat here. It seems to like the larger roads, perhaps because they get more salt, and is usually associated with Juncus bufonius (Toad Rush) and Gnaphalium uliginosum (Marsh Cudweed).

My Chaffweed Tour resulted in a record for one new 10 km square (NG62 in two sites) and records in two 10 km squares with no post-2000 records: NG33 and NG61.

In passing I made the first record in NG60 for Polygonum arenastrum (Equal-leaved Knotgrass). This is our common representative of the P. aviculare aggregate though P. aviculare sensu stricto does also occur. It likes ruderal habitats – tracks, field gates and muddy roadsides.

I intend to repeat the exercise next year in the northern parts of Skye I didn’t reach this week and where there are several 10 km squares with no records for Chaffweed.

I gave myself a little light relief and visited Tarskavig Bay, where I had last been in 2006, I had forgotten that it had nice things like Bolboschoenus maritimus (Sea Club-rush), Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort) and Persicaria amphibia (Amphibious Bistort) as well as the locally very uncommon Artemisia vulgaris (Mugwort) (Six sites in VC104 post-1999). I was pleased to find Centaurium erythraea (Common Centaury) still in flower – another uncommon species on Skye.

In Tarskavig some Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly Everlasting) has escaped from a garden. There are only two eariler records for this on Skye, one of which was within Lyndale House grounds, which feels a bit dodgy to me.

Anaphalis margaritacea

Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly Everlasting)

I was checking more Calystegia (Bindweeds) and found some infected with the fungus Septoria convolvuli, which seems to be locally common.

Septoria convolvuli on calystegia sepium

Septoria convolvuli on Calystegia sepium