Posts Tagged ‘Plants’

Hawkweeds 2018

October 29, 2018

Spoiler alert: Special Interest only!

I collected 11 specimens this year around VC 104 and sent them to David McCosh who says they are nearly all new 10km square records.

The most interesting was Hieracium ascendentidens  from near Colbert Point  for which David had only one previous record from VC 104.

Others were H. beebyanum, H. caledonicum, H. cerinthiforme, H. orimeles, H. rubicundiforme, H. strictiforme and 2 H. triviale (previously H. vulgatum).

Two could not be determined. One from the Druim na Ciche area is close to H. lagganense “but is ruled out by having obtuse rather than narrowly acute phyllaries.” A plant from Gedintailor “has some elements in common with H. uistense but not enough to be acceptable”.


October 26, 2018

We don’t usually see snow in October:


View from the garden

But the weeds are still flowering in the vegetable garden at sea level:

(All of these are rare locally.)

Where we are

October 20, 2018

I have been away for a month and since my return the weather has not been great. And there is lots to do in the garden. During the low season I have a number of small projects that I intend to undertake but first, here is an interesting map:


This shows the number of taxa not re-found since before 2000 by tetrad in vice-county 104. The pink/brown colour indicates the worst cases. I really need to spend more recording time on Raasay next season. The reason that Raasay comes out so badly in this analysis is twofold. Firstly, it was extremely well recorded before 2000 and secondly, I have been concentrating on the rest of my patch in recent years.


September 2, 2018

On Thursday I joined Skye Nature Group’s excursion to look for fungi, though as usual we looked at other things as well. Near the Crinodendron hookerianum (Lantern Tree) we found a fairly mature Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey Cypress) and a Laburnum looking pretty sick with fungi growing out of it. This one is clearly not the hybrid as it had many seeds per pod and I think it is Laburnum alpinum (Scottish Laburnum). In an ideal world I will go back a bit earlier next season to make sure.

I also spotted Erica vagans (Cornish Heath):


There must be something about SNG meetings as it was at the very first one last October that we made the first localised record for this plant in the vice-county.

The fungi were many and various and Seth has written the visit up here. Here are just a couple to whet your appetite (or not):


Afterwards I went to the Knott area to check a few things and found Origanum vulgare (Wild Marjoram) – the herb sold as Oregano – by the roadside, obviously escaped or thrown out from a garden. I find it spreads rapidly by seed in my garden.


Origanum vulgare (Wild Marjoram)

I took my grapnel to a nearby loch to find out what the pondweed was in the middle of it. Even from the shore back in June it was clearly not the usual Potamogeton polygonifolius (Bog Pondweed) or Potamogeton natans (Broad-leaved Pondweed). It turned out to be Potamogeton perfoliatus (Perfoliate Pondweed), so nothing exotic.

I also took a specimen of the Inula hookeri (Hooker’s Fleabane) to check whether it is actually I. orientalis (Georgian Fleabane) as Mike had pointed out that they are very similar. However, both his and my searches for glandular hairs have been inconclusive – the relevant key in Sell & Murrell being ambiguous. It may be possible to sort this out later from achenes.

Inula hookeri leaf edge, stem & involucral bracts

Inula hookeri leaf edge, stem & involucral bracts

Inula glands underside 3a

Inula glands underside of leaf     Image: M. Wilcox


September 2, 2018

Glenmore, south-west of Portree, is in a tetrad that needed more work so yesterday I had a go. The Glenmore River joins the Abhainn an Acha-leathain to form the River Snizort within the tetrad of interest and there is the roadside and an extensive area of bog, so even though it is now September I came away with 159 vascular plant records including Utricularia minor (Lesser Bladderwort) still in flower (or in flower again):


Utricularia minor (Lesser Bladderwort)

This leaves 14 tetrads in VC104 that are >5% land but have fewer than 50 post-1999 records. A further 28 have 50 to 79. (“Land” includes freshwater bodies.)

Also, there was Pustula tragopogonis on Cirsium heterophyllum (Melancholy Thistle) which I have only seen once before:


Pustula tragopogonis on Cirsium heterophyllum


Glen Scaladal, Strathaird

September 2, 2018

Both Steve and I visited Glen Scaladal, Strathaird during August and whilst there was a fair bit of overlap in what we recorded, we both found plants that the other didn’t. Two tetrads with rather few post-1999 records are now well recorded.

We both found Scutellaria minor (Lesser Skullcap), something that is always easier to spot late on when in flower:


Scutellaria minor

And I found a rose that I think can only be Rosa x margerisonii (Rosa spinosissima x caesia):

Rosa x margerisonii

Rosa x margerisonii probably

There was Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern) in several places on the sea cliffs:


Osmunda regalis

and Belemnite guards galore in the rocks:



Matt tells me the near vertical Belemnite shows the guard with the alveolus at the bottom where the chambered phragmocone would sit.

Some Plant Updates

August 26, 2018

The Acaena inermis at Waternish has now done what I wanted:


Acaena inermis at Waterish

This Burdock at Eabost is Arctium minus subsp. pubens (Lesser Burdock) – thanks, Mike.


Arctium minus subsp. pubens (Lesser Burdock)

This seems to be our common taxon, though more work is needed.

I forgot to include Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss) in the list of plants found by the Allt Coire nan Clach:


Lycopodium clavatum

It occurred to me that this was in a situation similar to that of quite a few L. clavatum records on Skye i.e. on a mossy/heathery bank set back from a burn and present in small numbers, such that I quite possibly miss it when walking along burns with my attention  focused on the burn and its immediate vicinity.


August 26, 2018

Geary Ravine is one of our riches botanical sites on Skye but yesterday I reached the top end of it and turned my back so as to record what looked like a seriously dull tetrad. At different times Carl (2006) and I (2012) had made a few records whilst passing through. We had amassed a total of 47 taxa.  The best bet to improve that score seemed to be to walk up the Abhainn a’ Ghlinne and indeed after half an hour I had added a further forty. Four hours later the taxa count was up to 111.

I also made a foray into NG26K to the south and at the top of Ben Geary I found Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow), new to NG26 and infected with Rhytisma salicinum (Willow Tarspot).


Rhytisma salicinum on Ben Geary

Additionally, some leaves had clearly been browsed by something small:

salix herb grazed

Salix herbacea grazed

There were masses of Twin-Spot Carpet moths but most pleasing was a Common Lizard making use of the only piece of litter I saw to warm up:


Common Lizard

It had clearly regrown its tail at some point.

I did quite well for invertebrate and fungus records, but nothing of great rarity.

Loch na Feithe Seilich, Loch Glac Mairi Nic Colla & Allt Choire nan Clach

August 24, 2018

Tetrad NG72A was visited by a party from the 2005 BSBI Field Meeting on Skye. They visited the eastern side – Allt nan Con and Loch an Ime. This was clearly not a rich area as they recorded only 75 taxa. Memory suggests it was a pretty wet day, too. (I was leading another party at the time.) These were the only records for this tetrad.

Yesterday I went to see if I could improve matters. I intended to visit the western side but starting over at the eastern edge as that is the nearest road.  However, the Allt Mòr was in full spate and despite being in wellies, the depth and flow persuaded me not to cross it. So I collected a Hieracium specimen and drove round to the Sleat road so as to approach from other side. This, it turned out, meant navigating an enormous sea of Molinia.

Once I reached Loch na Feithe Seilich and Loch Glac Mairi Nic Colla I added a few aquatics including Utricularia stygia (Nordic Bladderwort) (confirmed once home by examining the quadrifid hairs on the bladders).


Utricularia stygia (Nordic Bladderwort)

However, the Allt Choire nan Clach turned out to be one of those pleasing Skye burns with rocky gullies and a diverse flora such as Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry), Juniperus communis subsp. nana (Dwarf Juniper), Populus tremula (Aspen), Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble) and so on, such that the taxon count now stands at a much more respectable 144.

There was a fine group of polypore fungi on a dead tree (probably Birch Polypore)

bracket fungus 180823


and a fine Black Slug (Arion ater) enjoying a piece that had dropped off:


Arion ater

I also spotted several different hairy caterpillars including these two, which I do not see frequently (thanks to Nigel for idents):

I really love your tiger feet.

Colbost Point

August 24, 2018

Following on from my visit to Ullinish a week or so ago, I recently visited the next tetrad to the west which includes Colbost Point. Here there is “coral” beach like the more famous one north of Dunvegan, albeit on a smaller scale, but one that is rarely visited.


Near Colbost Point

and here there was Sedum acre (Biting Stonecrop) as reported in 1969.


Sedum acre (Biting Stonecrop)

Sadly, I didn’t find Sagina nodosa (Knotted Pearlwort), also reported in 1969 from “above the coral beach”. It should have been possible to find, though flowering is over, as Joanna demonstrated last week by showing me a piece she had found at Kinloch. Both these species are pretty infrequent on Skye.

Other nice species in a Skye context included a single very immature specimen of Cakile maritima (Sea Rocket) that is unlikely to set fruit and therefore will be gone by next year, Centunculus minimus (Chaffweed), Lythrum salicaria (Purple-loosestrife) and Mentha arvensis (Corn Mint).

Several plants of Plantago lanceolata (Ribwort Plantain) had galls caused by the nematode Ditylenchus dipsaci:

Plantago lanceolata nematode gall

Plantago lanceolata nematode gall

I think this is my first nematode record!