Kirkcudbrightshire Botany Group, Lochrutton 4 September 2019

The weather was again kind to us with sunshine and no rain, although it wasn’t that warm.  9 of us turned up and walked from the minor road to the tower intake of the loch/reservoir.  During the course of the day the most surprising, and unpleasant, thing was the amount of litter left behind by fishermen, dog walkers, party people, etc – no wonder the local farmer was anti-visitor!

Despite all this, the day had several unexpected plants.  The Lochside was a mass of Reed Canary-grass Phalaris arundinacea, with beds of Common Reed Phragmites australis in the far distance. A small bay nearby held a monoculture of Reed Sweet-grass Glyceria maxima with its wide bright green leaves, an unexpected find as this species seems to be centred around the Castle Douglas lochs and water courses. Around this bay we had Water-plantain Alisma plantago-aquatica just a couple of plants, and a few stands of Branched Bur-reed Sparganium erectum.  The water held Canadian Pondweed Elodea canadensis, Yellow Water-lily Nuphar lutea, Common Duckweed Lemna minor and its larger relative Ivy-leaved Duckweed L. trisulca.  Ross’s home-made grapnel proved very successful, pulling out masses of a very branched and fine-leaved pondweed which through the use of a phone app turned out to be Fennel Pondweed Potamogeton pectinatus. There was a scattering of Shoreweed Littorella uniflora in one spot and some semi-submerged knotgrasses identified as Water-pepper Persicaria hydropiper (which lives up to its name) and the very linear-leaved Small Water-pepper P. minor. Goose grazing made identification a bit tricky at first!   A few stands of Water Horsetail Equisetum fluviatile with its large hollow stem occurred around the loch.

The adjoining swamp/marsh have frequent forget-me-nots, both Water Forget-me-not Myosotis scorpioides and Tufted Forget-me-not M. laxa together with scattered Purple-loosestrife Lythrum salicaria.  One noticeable feature was the presence of the weak and scrambling stems of Woody Nightshade Solanum dulcamara; purple flowers with contrasting yellow stamens and bright red fruits. Further from the loch was the only sedge of the day Remote Sedge Carex remota.  The curly-edged dock leaves gave us a bit of a puzzle – very narrow linear leaves with curled edges and very glossy leaf lamina which didn’t really fit the published descriptions of Curled Dock Rumex crispus – this remains a mystery.

The adjoining deciduous woodland had Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage Chrysosplenium oppositifolium, a few ferns of the Dryopteris group, both Common Hemp-nettle Galeopsis tetrahit and Bifid Hemp-nettle G. bifida, still in flower, Giant Fescue Festuca gigantea, but not much else of note.

Beside the intake tower, over lunch, we had a small stand of Mugwort Artemisia vulgaris, pungent and associated with the drink absinthe. After this we ventured into a wet marshy area with Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria, Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustre, the inevitable rush stand and a scattering of Common Valerian Valeriana officinalis.  The nearby conifer stand held little of interest and the walk back through the field to the cars produced at least 9 grasses ranging from the sown Perennial Rye-grass Lolium perenne and Timothy Phleum pratense to the more usual False Oat-grass Arrhenatherum elatius and Annual Meadow-grass Poa annua. One species of note was Intermediate Lady’s-mantle Alchemilla xanthochlora with hairy petioles and under-surface of the leaves with hairs on the veins.  We also had Upright Hedge-parsley Torilis japonica with its finely cut leaves and widely-spaced flower heads which contrasts with the earlier flowering Cow Parsley, a more robust and compact species.  And several, presumably planted, Osiers Salix viminalis, with linear pointed leaves and slender green shoots alongside the path.

In all we had 121 species in this single monad.

David Hawker

BSBI county recorder for Kirkcudbrightshire VC73

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