Plants in Vice-County 104: a review of January-June 2013
A number of people are now recording plants on Skye so a Skye Botany Group has been formed to share learning and to record plants on Skye. The first meeting is planned for 11th July.
The Rare Plants Register for v.c. 104 was launched at a well-attended talk under the auspices of the Skye Members’ Centre of the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The talk was repeated a few weeks later for the Southwest Ross Field Club. The RPR is available from the BSBI Website or my webpage where errata are being noted and there are frequently updated distribution maps of all species in the RPR.
A leaf specimen of Orobanche alba (Thyme Broomrape) was obtained for the RBGE barcoding project during a botanical walk at Talisker Bay run for SWT.
A colony of Dactylorhiza tranusteineroides sensu stricto (Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchid) near Strollamus is the first record for the vice-county. We do, of course, have subsp. francis-drucei (previously called D. lapponica (Lapland Marsh-orchid)). Nearby was an unusual form of Erica tetralix known as E. tetralix f. fissa in which the corolla is not urn-shaped but irregularly split into segments.
A fairly small patch of Ammophila arenaria (Marram) was found in Sleat. This was highly unexpected. Marram is long known from the dunes at Glen Brittle but the only other Skye records are old, anonymous, unlocalised 10 km square records from the far north of Skye and had been thought to be probable errors.
Vicia hirsuta (Hairy Tare) was noted on the Talisker Bay cliffs in a natural environment – all other recent records have been on roadsides - and two new sites have been found for Lepidium heterophyllum (Smith’s Pepperwort), one in a new 10 km square.
A large colony of Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail) with some fertile shoots was noted near Greshornish. Fertile fronds are not often seen.
The first vice-county record of Lamium album (White Dead-nettle) since 1987 and the first for Rubus lacianatus (Cut-leaf Bramble or Parsley-leaved Blackberry) since 1970 were recorded at Ulllinish.
Old sites for Lycopodiella inundata (Marsh Clubmoss) near Lochan Dubha , one of only two known extant sites on Skye, Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Saxifrage) and Glechoma hederacea (Ground-ivy) have been re-found.
At the RPR launch two hay meadow surveys were mentioned, the first in 1985 and a follow-up in 2003. These, particularly the first, led to some useful additional records for the next edition of the RPR.
Lysichiton americanus (American Skunk-cabbage) was found near Kyleakin, a first for the vice-county; there is now some debate as to whether to attempt to eradicate it.
The Herbarium at Home project has thrown up a specimen of Carex saxatilis (Russet Sedge) from 1872 labelled Skye and from the image it appears to be that species.
The British Bryological Society Meeting held half of its Summer Meeting on Raasay and they started with a talk on the Flora of Raasay. In return they are providing some useful vascular plant records.
Vicia sativa subsp. nigra (Narrow-leaved Vetch) was found near the new ferry terminal, the third record for Raasay. It is close to a 1930s record but seems likely to have been introduced with soil during ferry terminal construction. Alternatively, it could have come from long-dormant seed disturbed during these operations.
The Small Isles
Sean Morris found a first vice-county record on Rum: Allium triquetrum (Three-cornered Garlic) which has escaped from the White House garden.
The Ascrib Islands are in Loch Snizort off the north-west coast of Skye. A day’s expedition allowed the confirmation of Vicia sativa subsp. nigra (Narrow-leaved Vetch) from what appears to be an entirely natural habitat.
Ligusticum scoticum (Scots Lovage) was common and Carex otrubae (False Fox-sedge) pretty frequent throughout the islands. Populus tremula (Aspen) was found on South Ascrib as was Carex extensa (Long-bracted Sedge), though the latter was also on Eilean Garave, where Salicornia (Glasswort) was also spotted.
The first ever plant records were made for Eilean Iosal and Eilean Creagach, the two very different islands at the north-west end of the group, the latter being the only place where Cerastium diffusum (Sea Mouse-ear) was recorded.
Stephen J Bungard
2 July 2013