Mainly about the wild flowers of Fife


Somewhere else (in my own backyard)

I went up the hill to the listening station with a vague memory of a circular walk years ago with mum, which comes out above the hospital. Instead, I followed the muddly, puddly track through the fields which took me to a sign-post for a “viewpoint”.

The path went up to a farm with a wonderful Mullein still flowering.

Then another muddy track which took me to…

I was just snorting when I saw steps going up..

The actual view point lived up to its name, a little platform with 360 degree views to the horizon and plaques naming the features in the landscape. I didn’t know this was Craiglug, what a fantastic name!

It was quiet November hazy sun at first, with dramatic skies.

Quite a few flowers were still blooming, including Hairy Tare, with its hairy seed pods (2 seeds).

But this was the most spectacular “flower”:


End of October

It was a beautiful morning. Cold, and the wind was freezing, but lovely day to be out.

And it’s always good to find a mystery as soon as you step out of the car.

Margaret has suggested equisetum, which could well be right.

I went down the Shell Bay forest track, which has been a frequent choice for Sunday walks over the last couple of months.

It’s sheltered, and there are still lots of flowers. Is this Henbit Dead-nettle? I’ll have to check again.

I was playing about trying to get two flowers into each shot. Knapweed and groundsel (if you look hard).

Annual wall rocket and Viper’s Bugloss.

There was also a late Meadowsweet, Common Stork’s-bill, Shepherd’s Purse, and the remains of the Green Field Speedwell.

I went out Ruddon’s point to look at the birds, as the tide was out. Gulls and more gulls. Came across this very raggy little ragwort (think I like it better this way).

I had a quick look at the moss on the tank traps and took a picture, as I’m not sure how much longer they’re going to escape the erosion…

Along Shell Bay, where I filled a bag with plastic stuff and dumped it in the litter bin. It wasn’t obviously messy, but the speed the bag filled up shows how much plastic is there.

Along the path wondering if the Duke of Argyll’s tea bush might have berries, but it didn’t. Up the cliff, where I got another two-for-one shot, Smooth Sow Thistle and a Fumitory.

I decided not to go down the back of the hill, but round the long way…which was a very long way…but it meant I came across this beautiful little Burnet rose in bloom.

I took a couple of hips back home and sowed the seeds, fingers crossed.

October woods

There was the sweet sound of robins, the toffee smell of autumn leaves, and the unexpected pleasure of being out for a walk without a coat.

We were supposed to be meeting in Comrie at the weekend, to look at ferns, but I knew it was likely to be called off, and decided to make the most of this beautiful Wednesday. I did the Glen Lednock circular walk, only 4 miles but there was so much to see.

There were sweet chestnuts scattered on the ground – many of them sitting upright on the shattered husks, as if they were just ready to jump off and start a new life. But the nuts seemed thin and soft. Maybe the storm brought them down too soon.

Among all the leaves, these two seemed particularly well placed.

A whole spectrum of life on this tree (including black slug, which was glinting beautifully in the light).

Magical moss water drops.

Water on a different scale altogether, the Deil’s Cauldron.

The noise and movement were impressive.

I liked the way the polypody stood out against the waterfall.

Further on, a great view of the hills.

The footbridge goes right through these trees.

It gave a great view of the liverworts, beetles and moss growing on them.

Further on, I tried for a spectacular photo of bell heather for wildflowerhour, but didn’t pull it off. But it was a beautiful view. The grey skies never came to anything.

A real golden day.

Mycelis muralis

A short walk up the side of the golf course and through the wood – just enjoying the very last of September sun. I didn’t expect to find a new flower at this stage of the year.

The leaves were distinctive.

There were several plants growing in the wall – which made me fairly sure it was Wall Lettuce!

A member of the Compositae family – but I’m really not sure why? Whatever, it was a great way to round off the summer.

I love the effects you get, going up this path where the vegetation is at head height along the top of the wall.

The Fife countryside was looking just lovely, bleached stubble fields, the brown earth where ploughing has started, the muted gold of the leaves.

I found 23 flowers, and a ladybird sheltering in the heart of the hogweed.


End of September, but there was still lots of colour around.

The glowing orangey-red leaves of the Rosebay Willowherb were fantastic in the sun.

After this year’s wonderful Hawthorn blossom, it’s not surprising that there are some great displays of berries now.

I was surprised to see that the burn no longer runs down on to the beach – effect of the dry summer?

The sow thistles are still lovely.

I walked through the dunes, thinking about moss. I must get back to it. This one is in my head as the pepperminty green moss.

At one point, there were spreads of vivid green Polypody leaves.

Only some leaves had sori, and only at the top. I wondered if this is because it’s early in the season – do they extend downwards from the tip?

The pools where I heard the Snipe earlier this year have now dried up again. No birds to be seen or heard.

Along at the end of the beach, I sat and watched a group of seals out on a sandbank, as the tide came in.

There seemed to be two young ones and six adults.

A constant stream of terns flew past in a straight line, behind the seals, heading up the estuary. I became worried about one of the seals, which didn’t move when the tide washed over the sandbank, and became separated from the group. It didn’t seem to be able to move properly, just rolling back and forward. I stopped watching and moved down the beach for a closed view, but it had disappeared by the time I did this. Hope that meant it was swimming away.

Other wildife – heard a grasshopper, saw ringed plover and sanderlings at the sea edge. Some beautiful young puffballs – I liked the curved shadow of the grass on this one.

The sea rocket on the beach is in great clumps.

I found a really pale version in the dunes.

Prickly Saltwort – flowers or fruits? (Fruits!)

Tentsmuir – so full of wonderful distractions, it always helps.

Forest and coastal path

I had a quick scout round at the Shell Bay forest track, mainly to check the Speedwell again. Just in time, as only a few little folded flowers remain.

After checking the fruits and finding only glandular hairs, I’m going for Veronica agrestis, Green Field Speedwell. But I’ll need to get someone down there to check it next year. There’s a blue dot on the map quite near, but not in this location.

I loved the way the ferns caught the light.

However, it made me realise once again how they just don’t stay in my mind. Just telling one from another is so difficult.

Then I went down to Elie – haven’t done the path there for a long time, put off by the tourist bungalows and the people sitting staring out. But…there was a seal perched on the edge of the rocks (and three more on another rock).

Sea rocket in full bloom, some plants dark purple, others pale, some half-buried but still going strong.

It was just a perfect day for the beach.

I was pleased to find Lucerne still flowering, two plants, one just hanging on among the spreading bracken.

The sycamore leaves all along the coast are brown and withered, probably from the storm last week.

The holiday bungalows are as intrusive as ever, and I miss the remote feel to that stretch of the path, but such is life. Along there, I watched a flock of 70/80 lapwings circling round and round, but they didn’t come into land. There were hundreds of gulls along the sea edge. However, bird of the day was this redshank, reflected in a pool.

I liked this little autumn mix, on the way back.

I took a picture of this sea sandwort, just because I don’t remember seeing it along at Elie before.


Germander Speedwell

Wood Speedwell, Veronica montana, with the flower stalk coming out of the leaf axil. Dunkeld.

Blue Water-speedwell, Veronica anagallis-aquatica, at Cassindonald Bog, 10 August 2018. Pictures a bit rushed because thunder rolling in the background. Several plants, all at this stage.

Leaves (sessile, large)


Marsh Speedwell, Veronica scutellata, at Morton Lochs on 4 August 2018. Narrow stiff leaves.

Thyme-leaved Speedwell, Veronica serpyllifolia. Growing up the Owlet wood path, Cupar – June? 2018.

(After getting Mgt to check my conclusions) – Green Field Speedwell, Veronica agrestis.

Path through the wood behind Shell Bay caravan site. We keyed it out, checked the fruits and found only glandular hairs.

Heath Speedwell, Veronica officinalis. Tentsmuir.

Think this is Heath Speedwell gone over.

To be added to – a work in progress

The path through the wood

End of summer, beginning of autumn. The wind snatched the car door out of my hand, but on the path through the forest, it was sheltered. There were lots of flowers still out.

First, a Speedwell. I’m really not sure which one this is and will have to go back with the book, to have a proper look at the fruits.

Then there was white Herb Robert, tangled up with everything else.

A fantastic fungi, which seems to have grown around the grass stem.

The path at the end of the wood had some lovely mixed groups.

I love Viper’s bugloss.

There was a dragon fly sunning itself (red veined darter?).

I puzzled over some rosettes of warty leaves, which seem familiar…will have to puzzle some more.

I still can’t remember how you tell the small geraniums apart. Maybe this is Small-flowered Cranesbill, as the hairs on the stem seem quite short. But again, I need to go back with the book.

I liked this nettle, for some reason.

And one final mystery, a flower which didn’t quite look like Chickweed or Cerastium Fontanum.

Going back to the car, lovely Sea Buckthorn

Kincraig cliffs

It was a beautiful breezy morning and I had the whole beach to myself, for a while.

The long line of orache isn’t here this year, but there are plenty of plants dotted about, with sea rocket too.

And a bad case of sand pox.

And hope!

I went along to the end of the beach, in case the fabled Long-horn Poppy could be found, but was just as happy to find Thrift in its late flowering, and the last of the Bladder Campion. (Or is it Sea? I never know)

I stopped to watch three(?) kestrels, swooping and hovering along the cliffs. Amazing being under one while it hung almost motionless in the sky. Up the cliffs, I thought I saw one of them posing on a rock, but it turned out to be a crow.

There are still plenty of flowers, although in ones and twos rather than abundance. I found one little Meadow Cranesbill.

Just a few Agrimony spikes.

Lots of this Artemisia plant – but which one is it?

The black hips of the Burnet Rose looked good enough to eat.

At the top of the cliffs, the swallows were flying low.

There were goldfinches on the Knapweed seedheads.

I got my first ever in-focus picture of the Duke of Argyll’s Teaplant flower. The plant seems to be spreading along the edge of the path – separate bushes.

There was some eye-catching lichen.

And a tiny patch of saltmarsh.

When I set out, I had a vague idea that I would try to re-find the Gentian (Gentianella amarella ssp septentrionalis) along at Dumbarnie. I knew there was work on a new golf course, but I hadn’t realised it was right where we’d botanised.

I felt so sad, thinking of the Grass of Parnassus and our rare Gentian. The plants are doing their best – the piles of sand have already been colonised by thistles and Common Storks-bill – but it makes me mad to think of what’s been lost, all so a group of rich Americans can have their own little bit of Fife.

Anyway, such is life. I went back up the Cocklemill burn path, to see how the erosion is coming on, and came across this little yellow thing.

I remember trying and failing to identify it last year. I think it’s either Annual or Perennial Wall-rocket, but am struggling a bit because what is a sepal scar?

Also found some white Common stork’s-bill along the forest track.

Tentsmuir in mid-August

Such a good day at Tentsmuir – I took far too many pictures which always delays the blog entry and means I’m remembering from a distance…

The stand-out plant was Grass of Parnassus, great spreads of it in the dunes, more than I’ve ever seen.

Here with eyebright.

Much more modest, but all over the dunes too, was the little starry Knotted Pearlwort, Sagina nodosa.

I was looking at sedges and rushes too, but will keep most of them for another day. Identification is still very vague.
The Evening Primrose is doing really well, and I saw lots of Hare’s-foot clover.

And Centaury with Red Bartsia.

I could hear terns, and set off down to the beach to see them, but my way was blocked.

Wasn’t expecting that, after our dry summer.

At the edge, it was all Glasswort (Salicornia) and Sea Blite, and Spurrey.

No birds in the bird pool. I headed up to the heath, where these poor battered alders are still putting out leaves.

Over to see whether I could find the moonwort from the vague description I’d been given – got myself a couple of cleg bites but no moonwort.

Coming back through the forest, I found my first ever Skullcap (Greater), with a red-headed beastie.

I made a detour down to the dunes, where I watched gannets diving and admired the prickliness of the Prickly Saltwort.

It was warm and I was tired.