Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Pigs, Bracken and Wildflowers

The bracken is beginning to sprout, and it is with some dismay that The Diary reports that these shoots were found in the field from which the pigs were recently moved. The good news is that there are amazingly few coming up - well done the pigs!

Perhaps it's the fine weather we've had recently, but the wildflowers in the fields and across the hills are excelling themselves this year.

The picture above is of a lady's smock or cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis), which has timed its flowering perfectly, as it coincided with the arrival of the first cuckoo. Although it's now beginning to appear elsewhere, we noticed the earliest blooms along the road verge by Cruachan croft.

In a muddy puddle by the side of the road we found this lovely specimen of a marsh marigold Caltha palustris. Perhaps it's thriving as a result of the runoff from the Kilchoan pigs, who live immediately above it.

This fir clubmoss was found on the flanks of Meall Sanna over the weekend. It has two synonymous latin names, Lycopodium selag and Huperzia selago, and is known to grow on mountains in Scotland, Wales & northern England, but only rarely in lowland areas. The spores are produced in small structures in the leaf axils and ripen in June/August.

Lastly, this is a bilberry, perhaps the mountain bilberry. Again, we found it on our walk along the flanks of Meall Sanna at the weekend. The beautifully delicate flowers remind The Diary of heather bells.

Many thanks to Hilary Hizzard for helping to identify the plants.


  1. Dear Diary,

    I believe your 'mountain bilberry' is in fact a Bear Berry. It's the same family (Ericaceae) as the Billberry/Blaeberry. Later in the year it will develop some nice round red edible berries, particulary favoured by Ursus horribilis so beware!!

    Can be confused with Cow Berry which looks very similar but instead of veins on the underside of the leaves has little black spots.

  2. Dear Anonymous -

    Thank you for putting me right.

    I'll make a point of returning to the spot in the autumn to try the berries, Ursus horribilis or no Ursus horribilis.