Old Records - Raasay


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Records by Harrison et al.

There are 130 taxa recorded by J. W. Heslop Harrison and co-workers that have not been re-found recently. This sounds high in the context of 616 taxa recorded by the author. However, things are not as bad as they seem.

The table below summarises the placement of these 130 taxa somewhat arbitrarily into one of eight categories. Clearly some belong in more than one category but for simplicity a single home has been selected for each taxon.

Weeds 13
Escapes/Planted 9
Errors 27
JWHH Specials 4
Hybrids 14
Microspecies 19
Subspecies 3
Minor forms no longer thought important 4
Interesting 37



Given the complete changes in taxonomy to some critical groups between the 1930s and the present, the number of microspecies listed as not re-found is an estimate. There is also an element of judgement in assigning error status to some records - some may yet turn out to be correct.

Despite the amount of effort put into Raasay in the past 26 years, it is likely that some of these will be re-found yet.  During the five years 2004-2008, the following eleven taxa previously included above have been re-found:

Taxon Comment
Chara vulgaris Previously overlooked
Glebionis segetum Re-introduction
X Dactylodenia st-quintinii Newly arisen hybrid
Dactylorhiza x transiens Probably previously overlooked
Dactylorhiza x venusta Probably previously overlooked
Eleocharis uniglumis Previously overlooked
Euphrasia nemorosa Confirmed by expert identification
Montia fontana subsp. fontana Closer examination of subspecies
Myosotis sylvatica Re-introduction
Viola arvensis Emerged form disturbed soil
Viola tricolor Probably previously missed

Many of the taxa classed as weeds were single records from ground that has not been cultivated for decades and so have a reduced likelihood of being found now.

The 37 plants that I have classified as interesting are as follows:

Anthriscus sylvestris Euphrasia micrantha Parnassia palustris
Asplenium septentrionale Euphrasia scottica Poa nemoralis
Avenula pratensis Geum x intermedium Polystichum setiferum
Callitriche hermaphroditica Honckenya peploides Ranunculus auricomus
Campanula rotundifolia Hypericum humifusum Sagina maritima
Carex caryophyllea Hypericum tetrapterum Salix phylicifolia
Carex distans Lepidium heterophyllum Sedum acre
Carex disticha Lycopodiella inundata Sonchus arvensis
Carex vesicaria Mentha arvensis Spergularia marina
Chara aspera Milium effusum Tofieldia pusilla
Cochlearia danica Myosotis scorpioides Trifolium medium
Cochlearia scotica Oxyria digyna Typha latifolia
Epilobium alsinifolium    

Taxa highlighted in yellow have been recorded since Harrison's time but not since before 1970. Callitriche hermaphroditica was recorded again in 1977,  Poa nemoralis in 1978 and Geum x intermedium in 1987 but they have not been seen since.

Taxa highlighted in green have definitely disappeared form the sites of original record.

Many of these plants are known on Skye.  A few have herbarium records to support them.  Three of the most interesting,  A. septentrionale, L. inundata and T. pusilla, have been searched for many times by myself and CWM and others.

More recent records not re-found

Ignoring omitted records, there are also 37 taxa recorded since the Harrison expeditions, which have not been seen recently and which may be similarly classified:

Errors 6
An aggregate 1
Microspecies 24
Right 3
Interesting 3
Total 37

During the five years 2004-2008, the following three taxa that were in the above group have been re-found:

Taxon Comment
Castanea sativa Previously overlooked
Equisetum x litorale Previously overlooked
Potamogeton berchtoldii  Previously overlooked

I have classified three taxa as right on the grounds that  the recorders are reliable and unlikely to have erred in these instances:

Neottia nidus-avis Bird's-nest Orchid
Sherardia arvensis Field Madder
Raphanus raphanistrum Wild Radish

In the case of Neottia, I have the voucher specimen.

The three taxa I have classified as interesting are:

Drosera intermedia Oblong-leaved Sundew
Galium boreale Northern Bedstraw
Viburnum opulus Guelder-rose

All are known from Skye, though I believe D. intermedia to be over-recorded there.


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