Plants in Vice-county 104: A Review of July-December 2023
Over 60 new hectad records were made in VC104 in the second half of 2023, bringing the year’s total to about 110. Over 7,100 2023 records have been transferred to the DDb including 14 new vice-county records for the year. The new taxa are mostly garden escapes or planted and the British native Pimpinella saxifraga (Burnet-saxifrage) seems likely to have been introduced with imported soil.
At the Pimpinella saxifraga (Burnet-saxifrage) site, there were also Origanum vulgare (Wild Marjoram) and Echium vulgare (Viper’s-bugloss) as well as the Skye native Galium verum (Lady’s Bedstraw) and the occasional neophyte Barbarea intermedia (Medium-flowered Winter-cress), reinforcing the idea that imported soil used to cap landfill is the source of the P. saxifraga.
Euphrasia frigida × ostenfeldii = E. × eurycarpa was found in Coire Scamadal, a first for Skye, though known (and originally thought only to occur) on Rum. Also, a plant that appears to be best described as the triple hybrid Euphrasia arctica x micrantha x scottica was found near Loch Cròcan.
Some 2022 records received in late 2023 included Scilla verna (Spring Squill), new to Skye, and Epipactis helleborine (Broad-leaved Helleborine), the first record for over twenty years. Another record for E. helleborine was made in a different part of Skye in August 2023.
The new alien species from the second half of the year were:
|Cotoneaster microphyllus s.s.
|Naturalised near shore
|Throw-out. Well established
|Ornithogalum umbellatum subsp. campestre*
* Ornithogalum umbellatum subsp. umbellatum (Garden Star-of-Bethlehem) has been recorded previously
Based on samples of naturalised Gunnera plants taken in 2015 for DNA analysis, two from Waternish and the Dunvegan area turn out to be G. x cryptica, the recently described hybrid between G. manicata and G. tinctoria.
Skye Botany Group (SBG) met five times from July to September. Members were further involved in BSBI’s SHARP Project and had success in the second half of the year with Euphrasia scottica (Scottish Eyebright) at Loch Cròcan, but there Hammarbya paludosa (Bog Orchid) remained elusive and elsewhere Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage) and Sorbus rupicola (Rock Whitebeam) were not re-found. The former is not rare in the vice-county being known in 92 tetrads (76 post-1999) out of our total of 709.
SBG also enjoyed a couple of expeditions with James Merryweather to look at horsetails and ferns including the rare Dryopteris pseudocomplexa at Dunvegan.
- Following up some findings by Mike Wilcox, an initial look at mature flower buds of native and naturalised ivies has been interesting and will need to be followed up next year.
- Some mature specimens of Ulmus glabra (Wych Elm) on Raasay were measured and samples taken for a project at the University of the Highlands and Islands.
- Over the year, seventeen Hieracium (Hawkweed) specimens were taken and sent for expert determination. These were all determined as triviale (Common Hawkweed) except for three from a single area which were H. reticulatiforme (Reticulate-leaved Hawkweed).
- Two specimens of Sagina subulata (Heath Pearlwort) turned out to be the glabrous form ( subulata var. glabrata) which leaves us wondering how frequent this form is locally.
- Vulpia bromoides (Squirreltail Fescue) was added to the plant list for the Isle of Muck.
- A tree on the Dunvegan Estate is probably Eucryphia glutinosa (Brush bush or Nirrhe) though it needs to be checked for × nymansensis.
A peloric form of Pedicularis sylvatica subsp. sylvatica (Lousewort) was found at Garafad, Staffin.
Stephen J Bungard
Read the Plants in Vice-county 104: A Review of January-June 2023 to find out what was discovered in the first half of 2023.
Skye Botany Group
Skye Botany Group organises about six field trips per year from May to September. Everyone is welcome. For more information please contact Joanna Walmisley.