Plants in Vice-County 104: A Review of January-June 2015
The Skye Botany Group met twice in the first half of 2015, on the first occasion enduring a very wet day on Ben Suardal to inspect Potentilla crantzii (Alpine Cinquefoil), Carex rupestris (Rock Sedge) and other limestone specialists. The second excursion to Rubh’ an Dłnain was a much drier day and allowed much useful recording including re-finding Ruppia cirrhosa (Spiral Tasselweed) and Vicia orobus (Wood Bitter-vetch).
Andrew Currie’s Herbarium was catalogued by two volunteers and the sheets were then transferred to RBGE where they will become part of the general herbarium. There are c. 1800 sheets of which c 75% were from the UK (63% from Scotland). Only six are from VC104.
Specimens of Gunnera were collected for a Royal Horticultural Society project looking at hybridisation in populations of these plants established in the wild.
A trip to Rona added six plants to the Rona list including Carex canescens (White Sedge), and twelve more to the list for the northern hectad, NG66. Many previous records at the hectad level were converted to tetrad records.
Recording on Raasay has been a bit neglected in recent years as the much larger and less well recorded Isle of Skye has taken precedence. However, a walk along Raasay’s east coast allowed several species to be re-found that had not been recorded in NG54 since before 2000 such as Cirsium heterophyllum (Melancholy Thistle) and Equisetum telmateia (Great Horsetail).
New sites for the locally uncommon Vicia sativa subsp. nigra (Narrow-leaved Vetch), Veronica beccabunga (Brooklime) and Vulpia bromoides (Squirreltail Fescue) were discovered.
A day in the Kilmory and Samhnan Insir area on Rum, mostly on the dunes, proved very worthwhile. New to VC104 was Saxifraga tridactylites (Rue-leaved Saxifrage) and there were several sites for Catapodium marinum (Sea Fern-grass) recorded from this area up until 1992 but not recorded anywhere in VC104 since 1996 (on Eigg). There was a lot of Atriplex laciniata (Frosted Orache) along the shore. This had been recorded at Kilmory up to 1997 but it was not found during the years of recording for The Flora of Rum. Polygonum oxyspermum subsp. raii (Ray’s Knotgrass) was also present, another plant that had been recorded there before (until 1984) but was not found during the Flora surveys.
Canna & Sanday
Ficaria verna subsp. verna (Lesser Celandine –with bulbils in the leaf axils) and Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress) were found at Canna House and are new to Canna/Sanday.
These islands continue to hold the only sites in the vice-county for Hypericum elodes (Marsh St John’s-wort) and Scilla verna (Spring Squill) and appear to have the only remaining sites for Mertensia maritima (Oysterplant).
Allium schoenoprasum (Chives) at Lusa, Elodea canadensis (Canadian Waterweed) at Waterish and Leucojum vernum (Spring Snowflake) from Kilbeg, Sleat and Talisker Bay are all new to the vice-county. The Talisker Bay plants have been known for many years but never made it onto the official record. Also new to VC104 is Rheum palmatum (Ornamental Rhubarb) from the top of the shore at Armadale, which was identified from a 2006 photograph, though it has now gone.
Moehringia trinervia (Three-nerved Sandwort) was found for the first time on Skye. There are several sites on Raasay and Eigg and an old record from Rum.
Galium album (Hedge Bedstraw) was found not far from Broadford. All previous records were in the north of Skye and the last was in 1997.
Potamogeton coloratus (Fen Pondweed) was re-found in Loch Cill Chriosd where it has been known since 1968 but last recorded in 1996. Other old records re-found include Centaurium erythraea (Common Centaury) from the Torrin area, where it has not been recorded since 1971 and Neottia ovata (Common Twayblade) at Fiskavaig where it had first been recorded in 1958, again in 1989, but not since. Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern) was located near Dunvegan where it was last recorded in 1976.
Valerianella locusta (Common Cornsalad) has been known at Ord since 1967. Only two plants were found there this year but at least 48 years in the same site is a remarkable achievement for a tiny population of an annual. This is the only known Skye site.
New sites on Skye were found for Anagallis tenella (Bog Pimpernel), Carex arenaria (Sand Sedge), Ficaria verna subsp. verna (Lesser Celandine –with bulbils), Paris quadrifolia (Herb-Paris), Polypodium interjectum (Intermediate Polypody) and Viola tricolor subsp. tricolor (Wild Pansy).
Cortaderia richardii (Early Pampas-grass) continues to spread and is now known from 17 tetrads on Skye and Raasay.
Profuse thanks are due to all, too many to mention individually, who have contributed to the above records and many more. Despite notably cold weather and the resulting late seasons, there are over 5,600 records for VC104 in the first half of 2015.
Stephen J Bungard
30 June 2015