Sunday, 31 July 2016

Botanising in the Outer Hebrides 2016 Part One

This year's Outer Hebrides Recording Houseparty is now underway and the first report is in from Paul Smith, County Recorder for the Outer Hebrides and Chair of BSBI's Records & Research Committee

Over to Paul:

"Sparganium (Bur-reed) is a tricky genus, and many plants cannot be identified when not in flower. So far we have had probable S. emersum, S. erectum (image below), S.angustifolium (very common in  nutrient poor lochs) and S. natans (usually in richer sites). 

The pic (above) shows Claudia photographing S. erectum in the Handay River on Barvas Sands. 

"Too early to do the subspecies yet, but at least the species is clear. The possible S. emersum was in a river on the moorland, with floating and strongly keeled, partly emergent, leaves. But without flowers it's hard to be sure. 

"Also on Barvas Sands are huge numbers of Gentianella amarella, in its northern subspecies septentrionalis with creamy yellow flowers (image below). 

"There was no sign of G. campestris at this site. Two plants contained aberrant double flowers (but not consistently - only one flower on each affected).

"The following day we looked at Juncus filiformis - a nationally scarce but apparently spreading species. It is known from a couple of sites in the Outer Hebrides and today we revisited the longest-known one at Loch Arnol in the course of Atlas 2020 recording

"It proved to be abundant but diminutive - only around 10cm tall - around quite a lot of the margin of Loch Arnol. 

"Although it has only been recorded in one tetrad - NB34 - it was easy to extend this to NB24 as the loch straddles the boundary. It is most abundant where the margins are quite bare (as in the pic below left with Claudia, Sally & Mags), but also as more scattered plants among Carex nigra beds".

Many thanks to Paul for this report and for the images on this page. If you'd like to find out more about the species mentioned on this page, try the plant cribs on the ID page here and there is a full species account for G. campestris on this page

To find out where the various plants grow, just type the scientific name into the taxon box on this page to generate a BSBI distribution map.