11 March 2016

Scarlet Elf Cups

Scarlet elf cups (Sarcoscypha sp.) are fungi which are occasionally found growing on moss-covered dead wood during the early months of the year and are notable for their brilliant colour. We have only found these twice before
(see http://www.fredandsarah.plus.com/botany/sarcoscypha.html for the first time we found them), but this year they are appearing in large numbers.

There are two species, S. austriaca and S. coccinea, which can only be separated by careful microscopic examination, particularly of the curliness of the hairs on the outer surface of the cup. S. austriaca seems to be the commoner species and we have failed to find any conclusive examples of S. coccinea in our area. For information on the differences between the two species, see
The ground under a local willow tree is covered with what must be 500 or more individuals, and we have also found several other sites of 50 or more nearby. The largest individual cups measured 7.5cm across, though most are much smaller than this.

We wonder if this is due to the excessive rainfall we have had this winter. At one location they are even growing on deadwood floating on a pond, which certainly suggests that they like it wet.

20 February 2016

The first daffodil

The first daffodil opened in our garden today. This probably doesn't seem that unusual if you live in the south of England, but here in central Scotland the crocuses have hardly begun to appear and I haven't seen any other daffodils anywhere near flowering yet this year.

23 January 2016

New Year flower count 2016

I've just heard back from the BSBI about their New Year plant hunt. The idea was to count wild plants in flower in a three-hour period over the New Year weekend. They have accepted my list of 21 species (from west central Scotland) found on 2nd January, so I'm rather belatedly listing them here. A few weeks later, after several days of frost and snow, many of these are no longer flowering. Most were either plants that can flower all year round or that normally flower into autumn and had survived the mild winter until New Year.

Unfortunately it was a very dull day and many of the plants were in a patch of waste ground that I could only view at a distance through wire netting, so it was far from ideal for photography.

Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress)

Bellis perennis (Daisy)

Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd's-purse)

Cardamine flexuosa (Wavy Bitter-cress)

Cerastium glomeratum (Sticky Mouse-ear)

Crepis capillaris (Smooth Hawksbeard)
Cymbalaria muralis (Ivy-leaved Toadflax)
Euphorbia peplus (Petty Spurge)

Fumaria officinalis (Common Fumitory)

Geum urbanum (Wood Avens)

Heracleum sphondylium (Hogweed)
Matricaria discoidea (Pineappleweed)

Myosotis arvensis (Field Forget-me-not)
Ornithopus perpusillus (Bird's-foot)

Poa annua (Annual Meadow-grass)
Ranunculus repens (Creeping Buttercup)

Senecio vulgaris (Groundsel)
Taraxacum officinale agg. (Dandelion)

Tripleurospermum inodorum (Scentless Mayweed)

Ulex europaeus (Gorse)
Veronica persica (Common Field-speedwell)

The following day I also found Erophila verna agg. (Common Whitlow Grass), but it didn't count as it wasn't within the three-hour period - a pity as it would have been the only true spring flower although I have found it flowering in almost every month of the year.

01 January 2016

A Loch Lomond bestiary

Last Sunday, the one day when it was not raining, I went to Loch Lomond to search for interesting pieces of driftwood. Among my Christmas presents I received some interesting paints for use on wood so I was looking for some suitable pieces to paint, but these ones will remain as they are.

This one looks like a little fox to me, but maybe I should leave it to your imagination to decide.

This is the first one I found and he was rather heavy. I think he is a water horse. I left him hidden under some rocks until I came back. By that time I was so laden with driftwood that I left two heavy pieces with him and made a separate journey afterwards to collect all three.

I think maybe this bird is trying out a pirouette. His dancing looks a bit wooden to me though.

A baby dragon perhaps?

This smooth seal came from a previous trip, but the smiling crocodile-like creature in the picture below from Sunday's visit was perhaps safer left where he was.