13 July 2011

Tall Ships and Red Arrows

Yesterday we went for a walk along the coast near Kilcreggan. Part of the object was to see the tall ships sail from Greenock, and to watch a display by the Red Arrows.

First, the Red Arrows

The paddle steamer, the Waverley, was also cruising nearby

And finally, the tall ships

09 July 2011

Alpine saxifrage revisited

The trouble with a blog is that, just when one has most to write about, one is also busiest with other things. It's 9 days since I went back up Beinn Dorain to look for the Alpine Saxifrage (Saxifraga nivalis) I found last year (see The Perils of botanical identification) and I have only just found the time to write about it.

After some hours of climbing in showery weather I managed to find the ledge in the rock again, but there was initial disappointment that the plant was smaller and hadn't produced a flower this year. My disappointment soon disappeared when I found another plant in flower a couple of yards away. There was no doubt that this flower was Alpine Saxifrage.

We hunted around for other plants of interest and these seemed to be most abundant along a narrow band of crags which were presumably calcareous. They included Luzula spicata, perched on a ledge with a view of hills to the east.

The yellow heads of Roseroot (Sedum rosea) were easy to spot and a good indicator of likely ledges as it frequently had rare species as companions. It had been growing on the ledge where I found the first Alpine Saxifrage.

Towards the end of the day we found a rather unusual Buttercup with a mixture of shiny and hairy leaves and an unusually large flower.

Further research suggests that this is likely to be a rather rare variety of Meadow Buttercup - Ranunculus acris var. pumilus - which has only previously been found on the Cairngorms and Skye in the UK. Once again, we will need to return for further verification of its identity.

07 July 2011


Last summer someone told me that the stigma of Mimulus flowers move quite rapidly when touched, in order to prevent further pollination. I was challenged to try and take photos of this.

Yesterday we found some Mimulus flowers by a nearby river. Touching the stigmas produced an immediate reaction, though it seemed to be necessary to touch the stigma twice to trigger this.



I was surprised to find that the stigma returned to its original position after about 15 minutes. This seems to be a response to lack of pollen so that the flower gets another chance at pollination.

I took some videos of this which can be seen on YouTube:

See also
Stigma behavior in Mimulus auranticus (Scrophulariaceae) by A. Elizabeth Fetscher and Joseph R. Kohn