Dumfriesshire Botany Group at Durisdeer, 11 July 2018

We met at the church at Durisdeer on a warm day with just a threat of a shower which did not materialise.  Durisdeer is a tiny picturesque village on the edge of the Lowther Hills. The area is part of the Queensberry Estate and the church is notable as the resting place for the Buccleuch family. The village sits on an old Roman road that runs through a gap in the hills into Strathclyde, modern day Lanarkshire. The modern road takes a different though no less spectacular route through the Dalveen Pass to the north. The Hills here are steep sided though rounded with limited craigs, rising to 670m at Wedder Law. The land is grazed by sheep and managed for grouse and partridge shooting. The vegetation is predominantly acid grassland and heath with blanket bog at higher levels. There are some screes and some more base rich flushes.

The aim was to record in a tetrad east of Durisdeer.  We reached this by following the track along Glenaggart as far as Kettleton Byre, now a bothy. Along the valley dominant species typical of these hills included Heather Calluna vulgaris, Bell Heather Erica cinerea, Blaeberry Vaccinium myrtillis, Tormentil Potentilla erectaMat Grass Nardus stricta and Braken Pteridium aquilinum. Beside the Hapland Burn down the main valley we  picked up some waterside plants. These included Creeping Forget-me-not Myosotis secunda, Common Valerian Valeriana officinalis and an eyebright which turned out to be Euphrasia confusa.

Despite the dry weather there was still a reasonable flow of water down the Glengap Burn and we walked up this to some waterfalls. The burn side was good for ferns and we looked at the differences between the larger ferns. These were Lemon Scented Fern Oreopteris limbosperma with its yellow rachis, Lady Fern  Athyrium Filix-femina with crescent shaped sori and Borrer’s Scaly Male Fer,  Dryopteris borreri with the black dot and stalked basal pinnules. On a large area of scree some of the party saw good stands of Parsley Fern Cryptogramma crispa.

Basic flushes gave some variation as is the case across the Southern Uplands. Here we saw Tawny Sedge Carex hostiana, Flea sedge Carex pulicaris, Round leaved Sundew Drosera rotundifolia, Butterwort Pinguicula vulgaris, Marsh Arrowgrass Triglochin palustris and Lesser clubmoss Selaginella selaginoides.

On the way back to the village we recorded the Durisdeer Monad. Two notable plants found here might both be old introductions but are interesting. Though past flowering,  Masterwort Peucedanum ostruthium is rare in Dumfriesshire though formerly grown for herbal use. It has not been recorded in NY80 before.  Neither has the beautiful, large pink flowered Bindweed Calystegia pulchra. This is also an established introduction only found in scattered localities, mostly lowland.

Chris Miles

BSBI county recorder for Dumfriesshire VC73 – see bsbi.org/dumfriesshire

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