Posts Tagged ‘Plants’

A Long Time Coming

August 15, 2022

I am conscious that my posts are getting less frequent – the result of holidays, Covid and visitors – but also perhaps, a general loss of enthusiasm on my part. Maybe this blog is heading towards a natural ending. We shall see.

In the meantime, Steve has spotted a Birch in Broadford that he thought was Betula utilis var. jacquemontii (Jacquemont’s Birch). I had a look and agreed, but something made me send images to the BSBI Betula referee who says “From the relatively short leaves and few pairs of veins I suspect it is B. ‘Doorenbos’, which I think is possibly a hybrid between B. utilis jacquemontii and B. ermanii. It is apparently so commonly grown because it is easy to root from cuttings – unlike most white-barked birches. If I’m right, the male catkins will not be knobbly (character of all B. utilis and B. albosinensis) and the fruiting catkins often not drooping and more or less in the plane of the shoot – the fruiting catkins of B. ermanii are more or less erect”. Steve is now on a mission to inspect catkins……

Very pleasingly, Joanna has found Manton’s Polypody – Polypodium x mantoniae (P. interjectum x vulgare) – a major target of our project with the Darwin Tree of Life folks. Hers are near the Coral Beach north of Dunvegan, but a sample taken at Ardnish may also be that. I have returned to Ardnish for a further sample, hoping for more mature spores and we await the verdict of the BSBI Polyodium referee.

Dolerite Dyke at Ardnish, site of possible Polypodium x mantoniae

I think a mature Eucalyptus at Broadford is E. gunnii (Cider Gum), but in the apparent absence of flowers or fruit it is hard to be certain. In any event, some of the leaves have an unusual appearance that I thought might be a gall. However, I can find no larvae and Robert Maidstone suggests it may be oedema, a disorder caused by the roots taking up more water than the leaves can transpire so that the excess water ruptures the cells,

Disfigured Eucalyptus leaves

Also in Broadford, the Sorbaria is confirmed as S. kirilowii (Chinese Sorbaria) rather than S. tomentosa (Himalayan Sorbaria) as the longest anthers are considerably longer than the petals.

I have not found much time for moths but my last moth trap had, unusually, lots of different micro-moths including:

The micro-ermine cannot be reliably determined to species as an adult. Yponomeuta cagnagella is very unlikely as the larvae feed on Spindle, the nearest known plant of which is on Rum two stretches of sea and about 40 km away. However, that still leaves two possibilities. All these micros except the really easy ones were determined or confirmed from images by Nigel Richards.

Also, in the garden, there was a Beautiful Plume (Amblyptilia acanthadactyla) determined from images by Colin Hart, the man who wrote the book about these moths.

Beautiful Plume (Amblyptilia acanthadactyla)

The larvae feed on Lamium spp. and this adult was close to some Lamium maculatum (Spotted Dead-nettle).

Update- Plants

July 25, 2022

I have been away but local botany continues…..

A report on plant recording in VC104 from January to June 2022 is here.

An expedition to collect a sample of Ophioglossum azoricum (Small Adder’s-tongue) for full genome sequencing was successful and has been written up by Max Coleman here.

Ophioglossum azoricum on Raasay

Recording in Broadford for the Urban Flora of Scotland continues to turn up interesting finds:

·      Joanna has added Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) to the vice-county list having found it growing on the strand line of Glas Eilean in Broadford Bay.

Sunflowers in the seaweed LR

·      Steve has found Ervilia (Vicia) hirsuta (Hairy Tare), the third post-1999 record for the vice-county and perhaps a re-find of an unlocalised, undated record in NG62 from last century.

·     I have a Sorbaria that I think is probably S. kirilowii and a Eucalyptus sp. to sort out:

Eucalyptus sp.


Sorbaria kirilowii probably

More Plants

July 2, 2022

I went for a walk at Aird Bernisdale with local residents interested in plants. We made a few new 10 km square records of garden escapes/planted species e.g. Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly Everlasting), but also managed quite a few new tetrad records, including Pinguicula lusitanica (Pale Butterwort) in a roadside ditch.

Skye Botany Group went to Ardnish, Broadford to search for Platanthera x hybrida (Hybrid Butterfly-orchid P. chlorantha x bifolia). This is a site suggested by Terry Swainbank in his BSBI News paper on the hybrid, because both parents are present close together and we felt it would be a fitting tribute to have a go following his all too early demise.

We did not find it there, but I visited the croft where Terry lived when on Skye and amongst a sea of both parent species, I found a single spike with the pollinia diverging at 20-22°, halfway between the angles seen in the parents. This was 30 m from where Terry recorded it in 2015.

Platanthera x hybrida

The Ardnish expedition was worthwhile from other points of view. We re-found Dactylorhiza viridis (Frog Orchid) though all of my sites from 2009 bar one had been overgrown by Salix aurita (Eared Willow). Nick spotted Dryopteris carthusiana (Narrow Buckler-Fern) in a fen-like area, the first Skye record for many a year. Joanna took some Euphrasia samples for determination, but we do not think that we re-found Euphrasia heslop-harrisonii from earlier surveys. The area looks to have changed since the previous records, with little grazing now.

Dryopteris carthusiana (Narrow Buckler-Fern)

I visited Drynoch following a report by Deirdre of a possible hybrid orchid. Surrounded by large numbers of the putative parents, I think she has X Dactylodenia evansii (Gymnadenia borealis x Dactylorhiza maculata).

X Dactylodenia evansii, probably

There are only two previous records for this hybrid in VC 104.

Interesting Plants

June 24, 2022

The past week has produced a number of good finds. On Sunday I went to Borreraig in NG15 in the hope of re-finding a 1991 record of Neottia ovata (Common Twayblade). I failed on that, but right where I parked the car there was Glechoma hederacea (Ground-ivy), new to NG15. A path has been mown down to the shore and some benches placed there. There has also been some planting, including Carex pendula (Pendulous Sedge), Gunnera tinctoria (Giant-rhubarb) (both new to NG15) and Libertia formosa (Chilean-iris) (new to the vice-county).

Libertia formosa

All in all, I added eight species to the NG15 list.

A passing visit to Portree allowed me to check up on the Logfia minima (Small Cudweed) and take a photo of it before it has shrivelled up, though it is still not that impressive:

Logfia minima

On Tuesday, Steve and I surveyed a square in Broadford for the Urban Flora of Scotland project. Steve showed me his recent finds of Fumaria officinalis subsp. officinalis (Common Fumitory) and Arum italicum (Italian Lords-and-Ladies), both new to NG62 and each with only one previous record in VC104 (though F. officinalis with no subspecies specified has a few more records).

We added a few more garden escapes to the NG62 list and Pilosella caespitosa (Yellow Fox-and-cubs) to the vice-county list.

Pilosella caespitosa

I think that a rose, which was also present in the monad Neil and I covered a few weeks ago, is Rosa ‘Hollandica’ – a hybrid of Rosa rugosa (Japanese Rose) and an uncertain second parent.

Rosa ‘Hollandica’

Afterwards, I went to try and see some things that Joanna had found in an adjacent monad and stumbled over Trifolium campestre (Hop Trefoil), the first localised record for Skye – two earlier ones being at the 10 km square level and undated.

Trifolium campestre at Broadford

On Wednesday it was off to Waternish Point with Neil to try and locate something he spotted looking very dead in the depths of winter eighteen months ago. We couldn’t find whatever it was, which was a shame as it had a fungus on it that would probably have been easy to name if we had been sure of the host. However, we added 30, 41 and 25 taxa to the plant lists for three tetrads on the west side of Waternish Point and it was good to see Lysimachia tenella (Bog Pimpernel) in two of them.

We spotted some leaf mines on Cochlearia officinalis (Common Scurvygrass) which I am leaving Neil to sort out. They look like fly mines to me.

Mine on Cochlearia officinalis

A New Sedge and Other Matters

June 18, 2022

Joanna has found Carex riparia (Greater Pond-sedge) at Broadford during a survey for the Urban Flora of Scotland. This is a first for VC 104 and there is a good patch of it near the shore.

Carex riparia (Greater Pond-sedge)

A few days ago I visited Armadale Castle to survey orchids. We counted 367 Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Common Spotted-orchid) and 229 Neottia ovata (Common Twayblade) in a relatively small area. There were also two Dactylorhiza maculata (Heath Spotted-orchid), though one of these had the conical inflorescence more typical of D. fuchsii. However, the individual flower shape was entirely typical for D. maculata so short of molecular work to demonstrate a bit of hybridity, it has gone down as that.

Whilst there we saw a Red-necked Footman, a moth with few Skye records, and my hosts said they had seen a few recently.

I have started to look at Platanthera (Butterfly-orchids) in readiness for the next Skye Botany Group outing when we have a probably vain hope of finding the hybrid between Greater and Lesser Butterfly-orchids. This involves measurement of the angle subtended by the pollinia:

Platanthera chlorantha

Neil and I had a good day in Sleat, failing to re-find Hippuris vulgaris (Mare’s-tail) at an old site but finding a silk web of the micro-moth, Yponomeuta evonymella (Bird-cherry Ermine), something I have looked for before in Sleat where there is plenty of the host plant.

Yponomeuta evonymella web on Bird Cherry

Records by Tetrad

June 5, 2022

This diagram shows the number of vascular plant taxa recorded in each tetrad of vice-county 104 from 2000 to the present (records in my hands a few days ago):

There are various minor quibbles about what is included/excluded but as a comparative indicator, it may be useful to those recording in the vice-county.

Orchids, a Currant and More Garden Plants

June 5, 2022

Neil has been on fine form, finding Ribes spicatum (Downy Currant) in NG35, the first record in that hectad for 50 years and a new site for Pseudorchis albida (Small-white Orchid) in NG46, the only previous record being very vague and from 1954.

Pseudorchis albida (Small-white Orchid) Image N. Roberts

This could be a good year for this orchid as John reports 13 in flower in his garden in Waternish, well up on previous years.

There is a large patch of Kniphofia uvaria (Red-hot-poker) by the roadside near Brogaig, as Seth pointed out a few years ago. With it are Symphoricarpos albus (Snowberry), Symphoricarpos x chenaultii (Pink Snowberry – fifth VC record), Cotoneaster simonsii (Himalayan Cotoneaster) and this, which I am sure will be obvious once it is flowering properly but which at the moment I haven’t managed to identify:

Later: Sidalcea probably S. malviflora (Greek Mallow).

Urban Flora of Scotland: Broadford

June 5, 2022

Members of Skye Botany Group have started to survey Broadford for the Urban Flora of Scotland project. Already, we have added Allium moly (Yellow Garlic) to the vice-county list and added Allium triquetrum (Three-cornered Garlic), Rubus tricolor (Chinese Bramble), Berberis thunbergii (Thunberg’s Barberry), Viola x wittrockiana (Garden Pansy) and Phormium tenax (New Zealand Flax) to the list for the 10 km square NG62. All garden escapes/throw-outs or planted in the wild.

Amusingly, Joanna recorded Allium moly in one monad on 31st May while Neil and I recorded it in another on the same day. According to the image properties one was four and a half hours before the other……..

Allium moly at Broadford amongst the Crocosmia

We also found Cotoneaster x suecicus (Swedish Cotoneaster) about 600 m from the only previous vice-county record (2007: myself, Mike W and Jesse).

Cotoneaster x suecicus (Swedish Cotoneaster)

A Day in Sleat

May 26, 2022

Tuesday was primarily Bird Cherry day for me. I was hoping to find caterpillars of the bird-cherry ermine moth (Yponomeuta evonymella) and failed, but I did find various things on the Bird Cherry:

When I stopped to inspect my first Bird Cherry of the day, I was delighted to find four fine specimens of Neottia nidus-avis (Bird’s-nest Orchid) – a long way from any previously known site for this locally rare plant.

Neottia nidus-avis (Bird’s-nest Orchid)

I caught three micro-moths, one of which (the smallest and least distinctive) turns out to be new to the vice-county.

More Plants

May 18, 2022

An excursion along the side road that runs through Eyre on Skye led to a new VC record: Anchusa azurea (a garden escape) and also the third site for Pulmonaria saccharata (Bethlehem-sage) and the fifth for Allium triquetrum (Three-cornered Garlic).

Anchusa azurea (Garden Anchusa)

Yesterday Skye Botany Group visited the Ophioglossum azoricum (Small Adder’s-tongue) site at Dun Scaich in Sleat. It was still small but showing well (for its size) with some fertile fronds amongst the sterile ones. The Ophioglossum project looking for new sites for O. azoricum on Skye and O. vulgatum in the north of Skye can now get started in earnest.

We added Festuca ovina (Sheep’s-fescue) to the list for the 10 km square NG51 and a total of 35 new tetrad records split between the four tetrads we passed through, the majority of additions being in the Dun Scaich square.

Perhaps the most interesting find of the day was made when most folks had gone. Neil and Wilma wandered into a marsh that spans all four of the day’s 1 km squares (and as it happens, that also means four tetrads and two 10 km squares) and found Hippuris vulgaris (Mare’s-tail). This is quite uncommon in the vice-county and it was in all four squares. There was also Carex canescens (White Sedge) and a variety of other aquatics and semi-aquatics that merit a re-visit.

Hippuris vulgaris (Mare’s-tail) Image: Seth Gibson