Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Botanising in Moray 2: some more rarities

Moray VC95, Wild Flower Society meeting Mon 13th – Thurs 16th July 2015. Report by Dawn Nelson. Part 2.

Wednesday 15th July 2015.

Small Cranberry
Image: D. Nelson 
Very different habitats were visited today; first off was a bog beside a small loch at Dava Moor. I didn’t have wellies so had to keep moving to prevent myself sinking and letting the water over top my boots. 

RR Vaccinium microcarpum (Small Cranberry) was found in flower and fruit. Many sedges were admired, including Carex pauciflora (Few-flowered Sedge), C. limosa (Bog Sedge) and C. canescens (White Sedge), and the rare RR Urticularia stygia (Nordic Bladderwort) was examined. 

Stag's-horn Clubmoss
Image: D. Nelson
Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss) was abundant in the layby and over the road we found RR Pyrola media (Intermediate Wintergreen) and counted the teeth on the leaf edges (mostly fewer than 15 on each side), Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Cowberry)with flowers and fruit, and Arctostaphyllos uva-ursi (Bearberry) with tiny hairs on the leaf edges.

Just up the road at Dava we stopped to tick off a handful of garden escapes including, Euphrasia cyparissias (Cyprus Spurge), Geranium x magnificum (Purple Crane’s-bill), Iris siberica (Siberian Iris) and a white flowered form of Sisyrinchium bermudiana (Blue Eyed-grass); we also saw Meum athamanticum (Spignel), a native, but probably an escape in this location.

Interrupted Clubmoss
Image: D. Nelson
Another short drive took us to Lochallan where RR Lycopodium annotinum, (Interrupted Clubmoss) was found in abundance and in the layby (again) we saw Viola x intersita (Common Dog-violet x Heath dog-violet) showing its sterility perfectly.

The next stop at Glenernie provided an abundance of both RR Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid) with its wonderful clove-like fragrance and longer-than-wide, barely-lobed lip, and Dactylorhiza maculata (Heath Spotted-orchid) in a multitude of interesting colour forms. Pinguicula vulgaris (Common Butterwort), Persicaria vivipara (Alpine Bistort) and Achillea ptarmica (Sneezewort) were also seen.

Heath Fragrant-orchid
Image: D. Nelson

Our last stop today was at Randolph’s Leap, a wonderful gorge formed by the River Findhorn. Yet another lay-by plant was seen too - Spirea chamaedryfolia (Elm-leaved Spirea). 

Along the footpath we found several self-sown seedlings of alien conifers. As is often the case in these scenic spots, many exotic trees had been planted by the Victorians. Several seedlings of Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea (Copper Beech) were also noted and County Recorder Ian Green, leading the meeting, showed us Laburnum alpinum (Scots Laburnum) with its shiny trifoliate leaves and winged fruit. 

Interesting natives included Circaea intermedia (Upland Enchanter’s-nightshade), in the absence of both parents, which is not unusual as it is regarded as a glacial relic. Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail) more Orthilia secunda (Serrated Wintergreen) and some Melampyrum pratense (Common Cow-wheat) were also seen. 

Leaves of Intermediate Wintergreen
Image: D, Nelson
At the confluence of the rivers Findhorn and Divie two rather special plants were noted - Antennaria dioica (Mountain Everlasting) and the endemic Hieracium chloranthum (Green-flowered Hawkweed). The latter is very distinctive with greenish-yellow flowers and is mentioned from here in the ‘Flora of Moray, Nairn & East Inverness’ by Mary McCallum Webster, 1978. 

Ed.: Thanks Dawn. Third and final part of Dawn's report follows on Friday - tomorrow we hope to tell you about a pioneer female botanist from Ireland - so keep watching this space!