Saturday, 24 May 2014

Dear Sheila & Gillean....

A fortnight ago, while walking on the cliffs beyond Plocaig, we came across this pink flower which we couldn't identify.  Having put it on the Diary - here - we had a comment from Sheila which identified the flower as Polygala vulgaris, but asking whether the leaves were alternate.  Meanwhile, Gillean thought it might be Polygala serpyllifolia.

I hope Sheila and Gillean can see from these pictures, taken today in warm, sunny conditions, that the leaves are alternate up the stem.  The pink colour is unusual, whichever the species, as most of the Polygala specimens we see here - and they seem to be thriving this year - are a mid-blue.  These pink ones - and we found about twelve specimens once we started looking - also have much larger, fleshier leaves than their more usual blue cousins.

The trouble today was that, once we had our eye in, we kept finding slight variations in colour.  This specimen, which was growing on almost bare rock, was a deeper blue than usual, and had many more flowers at its head, and the last one we found, near Achnaha....

....was a glorious purple and, again, had a dense grouping of flowers.

Sheila and Gillean - we're wondering whether we have two rare sub-species of Polygala here, in pink and purple, unique to West Ardnamurchan, as we're keen to give them some appropriate local names.


  1. I think you need to let some real experts see these - perhaps someone at SNH? Looks like they are Polygala vulgaris but perhaps slightly different to the normal plant we would see. We find many colour variants in Perthshire but have not seen such very pink ones, with such fleshy and large leaves.


  2. Really good close ups. Thank you for taking the trouble of returning to take more pics.
    Maybe Edinburgh Botanic Gardens could help further.
    Or Scottish Rock Garden club could advise.

  3. There is an interesting document at
    Why not not contact the bsbi on Send them some photos. They may well have some local knowledge already for this little flower.