Posts Tagged ‘Plants’

Off With a Bang

February 14, 2020

The square-bashing for Atlas 2020 is over but yesterday Neil, Seth and I took a walk along the River Chracaig in Portree and made a cracking start to the new year’s recording. We started with a look at some snowdrops Seth had found. As well as the standard Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrop), as he had suspected there was also something else, which turned out to be G. plicatus subsp. plicatus (Pleated Snowdrop) and a hybrid swarm of G. x valentinei (G. nivalis x plicatus).

Galanthus plicatus

Galanthus plicatus ssp. plicatus (Confirmed by Aaron Davis at Kew)

Not long after that, we fell over a mature conifer which I am pretty sure is Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese Red-cedar): Later: Confirmed by Matt Parratt (BSBI Conifer referee).

Cryptomeria japonica.jpg

Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese Red-cedar)

That makes three things new to VC104.

Additionally, we added Berberis darwinii (Darwin’s Barberry) and a crocus to the list for the 10 x 10km square NG44.  I think the crocus is Crocus verna but have asked for expert advice. Later: Brian Mathew (BSBI Crocus referee) says “….the C. vernus agg….. is now split into several. I am sure the Portree Crocus is a form of one of these, the variable C. neapolitanus (Ker Gawl.) Loisel.” So another new VC record – sort of, as I have previously recorded C. vernus and C. neapolitanus is what used to be C. vernus subsp. vernus.


Crocus neapolitanus

We added a further eight taxa that were new to the tetrad including Carex sylvatica (Wood-sedge) and Sanicula europaea (Sanicle).

We found this interesting fungus (Onygena equina) growing on a sheep horn – Neil had found it near here a few months ago:


Onygena equina

an Orange Ladybird

Orange Ladybird

Orange Ladybird

and a variety of other insects, fungi and lichens. Today the weather is back to gale force with no ferry running – and set to be that way for a few days – so no more excursions for now.


January 19, 2020

A summary of plant recording in VC104 in the second half of 2019 is available here.

Post-2000 records per tetrad look like this:

Post-2000 records per tetrad

Post-2000 records per tetrad

The bright yellow squares have been visited and found to have no vascular plants (only bare rock above HWMS).

The bright red squares have not been visited but are likely to have no vascular plants for the same reason.

More Raasay News

December 4, 2019

A woodlouse found on the recent SNG outing turns out to be Philoscia affinis, a cryptic species only recorded in the UK in 2017 but likely to have been here for many a year as an undiscovered native. For now, this is the most northerly record on the planet.

Philoscia affinis

Philoscia affinis              Image N. Roberts

You can read much more about this here.

Whilst checking the only known duckweed site on Raasay a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a plant in that small garden pond that I thought was Ranunculus subgenus Batrachium i.e. a Water-crowfoot. I sent a couple of pictures to Chris Preston, aquatic plants expert, who agreed. Sadly neither he nor I can get it to the species level without flowers and late November is not the time to find those. The only accepted records for linear-leaved water-crowfoots in the vice-county are of Ranunculus trichophyllus (Thread-leaved Water-crowfoot) from Storr Lochs on Skye. The Raasay one may have been introduced with purchased pond plants.



Today I spotted this little fungus on a twig in the garden:

Fungus on twig

Fungus on twig

I am hoping that someone will advise as to what it is…..   Later: Looks like a Hymenoscyphus though the species would need more work. Thanks, Seth.

Beyond Glen Caladale

November 29, 2019

I have just spotted that this was never posted at the end of May, so for the record…..

One of the few remaining tetrads with no records ever was NG32H to the west of Eynort and south of Talisker Bay. On Tuesday Neil and I chose to walk in from Eynort and sorted that out with 136 records.

We found no great rarities but Asplenium marinum (Sea Spleenwort) on the shore and Silene acaulis (Moss Campion) on the cliffs were nice.

Silene acaulis

Silene acaulis

On the way we saw some fine examples of animal topiary with the gorse:

Gorse topiary

Gorse topiary

We startled a barn owl off the cliffs and a peregrine flashed pass at one point. We also spotted a fine Argent & Sable:

Argent & Sable

Argent & Sable



Loch Eadar dà Bhaile, Raasay

November 29, 2019

Seven members of Skye Nature Group circumnavigated (well, nearly) Loch Eadar dà Bhaile, the loch between the townships of Balachuirn and Balameanach on Wednesday. This is a rich loch where the vegetation is slowly covering the open water. We recorded 123 plants of which Fragaria vesca (Wild Strawberry), Hypericum androsaemum (Tutsan) and Sanicula europaea (Sanicle) were new to the monad (1km square). Additionally, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) was spotted (in large quantities) for the first time since the 1990s.

We started up a woodcock and found a newt – not in the loch – and the fungi were good, including Birch Jelly (Exidia repanda), Green Elfcup (Chlorociboria aeruginascens) (probably) and Pipe Club (Macrotyphula fistulosa var. contorta).

Chlorociboria aeruginascens

Chlorociboria aeruginascens

Pipe Club Macrotyphula fistulosa

Macrotyphula fistulosa

Oh yes – and we inspected the 170m run of Crocosmia pottsii (Potts’ Montbretia) from Balameanach to the shore of Loch Eadar dà Bhaile that until this year had been recorded as Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora (Montbretia (C. aurea x pottsii)).

Crocosmia pottsii Balameanach

Crocosmia pottsii at Balameanach

Ducks & Monkeys

November 29, 2019

My tour of Duckweed (Lemna) sites on Skye was successful in that I re-found the plants in nine out of ten places. However, none of them was convincingly Lemna gibba (Fat Duckweed) – see previous post. I am keeping specimens for molecular work as and when a DNA test becomes available.

Skye Lemna samples

Skye Lemna samples

Seth checked the Lemna in the ponds at Armadale Castle and that turns out to be L. gibba. He also found two immature specimens of Araucaria araucana (Monkey-puzzle) that appear to have self-seeded. Previous records in the vice-county have been of planted trees.


November 11, 2019

I found this:

Phylogeny Angiosperms

It is here.  But be aware that it is a 36MB pdf intended to be printed on A0 paper.

There is also one for monocots alone.

APG is the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group and APG IV (2016) is the latest classification for the orders and families of flowering plants.

The Spread of Aliens in VC104

November 5, 2019

This was the subject of a poster and exhibit I produced for the Scottish Botanists’ Conference last Saturday.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Its component parts and the associated notes are available to download as a pdf from a link here.

Here is what it looked like in situ:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This Year’s Hawkweeds

October 25, 2019

I sent 19 specimens from VC104 and two from VC105 to David McCosh who has found them to be of ten different species, though one needs checking.

Hieracium subcrinellum (previously H. crinellum) (Blunt-leaved Hawkweed) is new to both vice-counties and was a late entry for vc104 as I found it in flower in October beside the Allt Daraich near Sligachan.

H. duriceps (Hard-headed Hawkweed) has quite a lot of VC104 records pre-2000 but one from the Geary Ravine is the first since.

H. eucallum (Spreading-toothed Hawkweed) had one pre-2000 record but this is the only more recent one from Skye, though there are two modern records from the Small Isles.

H. hebridense (Hebridean Hawkweed) has scattered records across the patch both pre-2000 and since and accounted for five of the 21 specimens.

H. orcadense (Orkney Hawkweed) is known only from Skye within the VC. This, from the Caladale Burn is the third modern site.

H. reticulatiforme (Reticulate-leaved Hawkweed) from Talisker Bay needs confirmation as all the flowers had gone to seed in the press and without knowing the style colour it cannot be distinguished with certainty from H. strictiforme (Strict Hawkweed). If correct, it will be the second ever record for the vice-county, the first being in 1968 when different taxonomy held sway for this genus.

A plant from Dunvegan was determined as Hieracium cf. scotostictum (Dappled Hawkweed)  i.e close but not an exact match for the currently understood species. H. scotostictum has only a handful of records in Scotland.

H. sparsifolium (Sparse-leaved Hawkweed) from an area to the west of Tormore is the first modern record.

H. sublasiophyllum (Slender-bracted Hawkweed) from Abhainn Gremiscaig is the first for Skye and the second for the VC as there is a 1986 record for Eigg.

H. triviale (previously H. vulgatum) (Common Hawkweed) is quite widespread and accounted for seven of the 21 specimens.

Seth has three specimens from Skye this year that have yet to be determined and I have a report of a spotty-leaved plant that may be a Hieracium from Sgùrr nan Gilean which, like the putative H. reticulatiforme, needs to be checked next year. Just at the moment I am feeling quite enthused about hawkweeds so maybe next year I will spend more time on them.

More Taxonomy!

October 24, 2019

Further to my recent note, I have found another recent publication which sets out the authors’ views on the broad taxonomic relationships of the 500,000+ green plant species based on molecular genetic data. Try this:

Plant evolution 3

There is much more material if this sort of thing interests you. It is freely available  here:

One Thousand Plant Transcriptomes and Phylogenomics of Green Plants. Nature, 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1693-2

Though not new, the position of  Charophytes/Stoneworts between green algae and bryophytes is confirmed by this approach.