Plants in Vice-County 104: a review of July - December 2013
The newly formed Skye Botany Group held three meetings in July, August and September and made a very useful contribution to recording as well as providing an opportunity for mutual learning.
Various specimens were obtained for the RBGE barcoding project
A Sedge Day was held on Raasay which gave attendees the wherewithal to identify the commonest sedges in the area.
A review of the past ten years’ recording in the vice-county was the subject of a talk to the Inverness Botany Group in December.
First vice-county records were made for Ononis repens (Restharrow) and Mimulus x burnetii (M. cupreus x guttatus). Leymus arenarius (Lyme-grass) was found in two new locations, a plant not previously recorded on Skye itself (rather than Raasay) since 1988.
Elymus caninus (Bearded Couch) is growing on a roadside in Broadford. This is the first roadside site in the vice-county, others being on rock outcrops. Also by the roadside but near Dunan, there was a monstrous Plantago maritima in which the inflorescences have been replaced by whorls of leaves.
What appears to be Sparganium emersum (Unbranched Bur-reed) was found in Loch Cleap. This is a plant whose existence in the vice-county has long been a matter of uncertainty as there are some relatively broad-leaved “S. angustifolium (Floating Bur-reed)” specimens. Kay Fuhrman in Oldenburg has recently published a paper saying that many northern European populations “share characters which are intermediate between the traits of Sparganium angustifolium and the closely related S. emersum…. Two hypotheses exist, one assumes two hybridizing species, the other emphasises a single variable taxon. The real relationship seems still not to be understood.”
Potamogeton crispus (Curled Pondweed) was re-found in Loch Dubhar-sgoth, the only localised record for this species in the vice-county where it was last recorded in 1983.
Three new sites were found for the Nationally Scarce Deschampsia setacea (Bog Hair-grass).
A garden at Earlish was found to contain Vulpia myuros (Rat’s-tail Fescue) where it may have come from birdseed. The only previous VC104 record was an anonymous one from 1949 in NM48 (Eigg or Muck), though it was recently recorded as an introduction not far from Skye on the mainland. Viola arvensis (Field Pansy) was also present. This is one of only two extant sites known in VC 104.
Cerastium nigrescens (Arctic Mouse-ear), was re-found on the Trotternish Ridge where it was last recorded twenty years ago. Its apparent absence has been causing the Trotternish Ridge SSSI to be given an unfavourable report. Indeed the 2009 Site Condition Monitoring team concluded “The habitat at this location is unlikely to support this species and in no way appears to have been modified. The SCM team at 2004 also did not find this species and it is therefore concluded that this is an erroneous record.”
Old records for Sorbus rupicola (Rock Whitebeam) and Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle) at Suisnish were re-found readily enough, the latter in large numbers. It was also pleasing to see Orobanche alba (Thyme Broomrape) there at a new site as recent records in the south of Skye are very thin.
Samolus valerandi (Brookweed) was seen at the mouth of the Allt nan Leac where it had previously been recorded from 1968 to 1989. This is one of only three localised records in the vice-county, one of which still needs to be re-found.
The provision of samples of Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell) to the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Edinburgh led to the first record for tetraploid plants in the Hebrides. A second population was the expected hexaploid.
A good population of Mentha requienii (Corsican Mint) was found near Balachuirn though it is not known to be grown anywhere on Raasay. This is a considerable extension to its range; previously the most northerly accepted record on the west coast is the Loch Glashan area of Argyllshire and there is also a slightly more northerly record from near Arbroath.
Juncus foliosus (Leafy Rush) was found for the second time on Raasay, ten years and a few hundred metres from the first. It remains to be found on Skye.
As I have been concentrating on the rest of the vice-county in recent years, Raasay has been a bit neglected so a start has been made on refreshing records that have not been recorded on Raasay since before 2000 at the 10 km square level. There is plenty more of this to do before 2020.
The Small Isles
̉igh-sgeir (in Scots Gaelic, Hyskeir in Norse) lies 10 km southwest of Canna and 14 km west of Rum marking the southern end of the Minch and is composed entirely of columnar basalt.
During a day trip from Elgol 72 plant species were recorded many of which had been recorded in the 1930s but quite a few hadn’t – but there again quite a few of the species recorded all that time ago were not seen this time. Carex arenaria (Sand Sedge) and Lemna minor (Common Duckweed) were widespread, as were Bolboschoenus maritimus (Sea Club-rush) and Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort).
Two plants of Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima (Sea Beet) added significantly to recent records of this plant in the vice-county which previously amounted to three plants on Canna and one ancient specimen on Muck.
Stephen J Bungard
16 December 2013