Mainly about the wild flowers of Fife


Maspie Den

Today was really about re-checking some of the mosses and liverworts Mgt and I found a couple of weeks ago, but there were lots of other things which caught my eye.

This Stag’s-horn fungus was the brightest thing in the wood.

Mind you, my favourite liverwort is also very colourful.

Still to ID it properly, thinking Scapania.

There was a hollow Ash tree, still alive but surely on borrowed time.

A slime mould above one of the holes.

Up close, it was less like a cauliflower and more a beautiful heap of shiny white globes.

I loved this little colony of moss capsules, in the middle of a wide rocky plateau.

Under the trees, there was confetti from the conifers.

I think these are from an Abies, but not sure which one.

John Knox’s Pulpit

Haven’t been here for years but always meant to go back in spring to see the wood anemones and wood sorrel in flower in the woods at the foot of the path.

There were celandines too, and golden sax, and violets. An invisible chiffchaff, and, out of the wood, a great show of gorse.

There’s a yellowhammer in this picture.

I never knew they had orange backs.

You wouldn’t know from the photos, but the east wind was strong. I persevered up the path, looking over to John Knox’s pulpit and its caves.

Above, there are two massive rocks looking ready to roll down at any time.

I pottered along, finding Luzula campestris (Good Friday grass).

Later, there was another grassy thing in flower:

I think this is Hare’s-tail Cottongrass, Eriophorum vaginatum – but not quite sure.

There was also this mystery plant, which looks quite familiar…

The path has been “improved” but it feels a bit municipal now, instead of the rough track that was there. So coming back, I decided to walk past the signs warning of rock falls and go down the unimproved path to John Knox’s pulpit. I was quite relieved to get past without the boulders falling on my head.

But it felt more in touch with the landscape than the obstacle-free experience which FCCT has left us. And when I got home and looked at my photos, it’s clear that the boulders have been cemented into place. (Which explain the heap of cement left down by the burn.)

The view down the hill was good.

As a PS, I admired – and was slightly depressed – by the stripes on these fields in the distance, which match up perfectly. Arable weeds, no chance here!

Holl and Harperleas

I feel out of practice, blogging. Where has the year gone? Today there was nothing in the diary and I went off to Holl reservoir to see what was going on.

Wood Crane’s-bill, Geranium sylvaticum was the star of the show, great swathes of it.

The Melancholy thistle is just coming into flower – I love it.

Even when it’s going over, it’s so beautiful.

The reservoir is very low, but there was still some water in the overflow, and lots of Lesser Spearwort with…well, I was reminded again how little I know about water-loving plants. There were rushes and sedges.

Think this one is Carex demissa, Common Yellow Sedge.

There were some mystery leaves on the far side – I wondered about figwort, but they look too round.

There was a delicate flowering grass (?)

Lots of Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta (4 stamens), with fertilised flowers just beginning to set seed.

I didn’t see the butterfly orchid or the Hairy Stonecrop, Sedum villosum.

Then I set off along the road towards the Bishop hill, but it didn’t go where I thought, so I turned off along a path that eventually led back to Harperleas reservoir. Some great views.

I was very happy to find Stag’s-horn Clubmoss, Lycopodium clavatum, growing all along the path.

I never realised how long its branches can be.

The white hairs are an identifier.

Then there were the butterflies, enjoying the only marsh thistle in the neighbourhood.

Think these are Dark Green Fritillaries.

I enjoyed it all very much.

Spring has sprung at Holl

I went up to Holl reservoir on Sunday morning, wondering if the overflow would be showing signs of anything special yet.

There were lambs – some doing high kicks, this one feeding with its mother.

There were larch raspberries all over the branches.

I’ve never seen the overflow do more than trickle, but today there was a deluge coming down.

The horsetails will probably cope. Think these are the fertile shoots of Field Horsetail, but I could be wrong.

I think those are Geranium lucidum, Shining Crane’s-bill leaves in the corner – hope they’re OK.

Along the banks, there wood anemones, celandine, coltsfoot and primroses (these ones looking rather battered).

There was a green blob of moss in the middle of the overflow – no idea, but I liked its vivid colour.

There was a willow warbler warbling appropriately in the willows – first one this year.

I was intrigued by this star-burst seedhead, which looks like a sparkler on a stick.

Coming back, barren strawberry (depressed terminal leaflet).

I love how this part of Fife looks so un-Fife-like.

More things to learn

On a hot and sunny morning, I went up to Holl reservoir to see what could be seen. (OK, I was really hoping to find the Melancholy thistle…but didn’t.) There was Wood Crane’s-bill, Geranium sylvaticum out all over the place. Walking along the back of the reservoir, looking at the overflow, there were several things I didn’t recognise.

A beautiful sedge (well, I think it’s a sedge).
mystery sedge
Another beautiful thing which I thought was a rush, but after looking at the books, it might be a sedge, too…one of the Spike-rushes, Eleocharis members of the Cyperaceae family?

rush flowers
A little sedum, which, when I first published this blog entry, I was fairly sure was Sedum anglicum, English stonecrop. However, after consulting Sandy Edwards and doing a bit more looking up, I think it’s Hairy Stonecrop, Sedum villosum.

sedum anglicum
What a pretty wee thing.
sedum anglicum 2
I also found a nice set of green leaves.
It’s good to have mysteries, to learn from, I tell myself.

I went on to have a walk round Markinch, where I didn’t find anything terribly exciting plant-wise, but came across Kirkforthar doocot and the ruined house of the Lindsays, next to it.

doocot 2

Viola lutea

Finally made it up Bishop Hill, with Pauline, on a greyish midgy Sunday which turned out sunny in the end. Not a plant day, but I couldn’t resist this wee gem.
mountain pansy
Mountain Pansy, Viola lutea (which sounds much nicer).

Great views.

carlin maggie

east lomond

loch leven

Holl Reservoir

If all had gone to plan, this post would be called “Melancholy Thistle”. I went off to see if I could find it at Holl reservoir, as per Sandy’s list.

The reservoir was another new place for me, so I’m doing well with the new year resolution. It felt like a different part of Scotland.
Why would you build a small semi-circular wall in the corner of a field?
I set off to walk round the reservoir, and got totally sidetracked by the plants growing down an overflow.
Geranium dissectum, Cut-leaved Crane’s-bill – I love geraniums.

Also pictured is Common Vetch, Vicia sativa. I was looking at Spring Vetch on Monday and learned that one difference between the two is the dark spot on the stipule of the Common Vetch. (And Spring Vetch is smaller all over.) I didn’t manage to get the spot in the picture, but it was there.

There was a little forget-me-not, probably discolour, with changing flower colours on its curled head. Growing in an interesting mix of alchemilla and horsetail – and is that another geranium leaf there?

Little starry flowers of Three-nerved Sandwort.

three nerved sandwort2

three nerved sandwort3
Then there was this mystery – I’ve never seen fruits emerging from the petals like this. It might be Erophila verna, Common Whitlowgrass, but I’m really not sure.




I didn’t mind too much about the missing Melancholy Thistle.

Mistaken identity

Went for a short walk to the limekiln on East Lomond yesterday, brooding dark sky above but view of sunny wheatfields to the north. And I found this flower:

I thought it was maybe the mountain everlasting, in full flower. It’s supposed to grow on the north side of the East Lomond. OK, this was next to the path going towards the hill, but it was the north side of the path… But when I got home and checked, the leaves looked all wrong, and in the end I decided it’s Sneezewort, achillea ptarmica.

Here’s a picture of the genuine article, mountain everlasting, as seen last month near Kindrogan. The search on the East Lomond goes on.

Other things to remember from this walk: 3 stonechats on a fence; kestrel hovering; something small squeaking very loudly in the long grass beside the path; water avens half submerged like water lilies; achemilla completely submerged and remote. Ragged robin and what looks like a twayblade, down at the edge of the water.

Pink (and white) Purslane

Last year I found a colony of white flowers which resisted identification for a long time (well, no change there then) but eventually I decided they were Pink Purslane – only white.

And then today I looked twice at what I took to be Common Cranesbill, and realised it was the genuinely pink Pink Purslane, a first-time spotting discovery which made me extremely chuffed.


This is such a bad picture – it was much pinker and cleaner than that.

Another happy first today was a blue flash of Kingfisher, and I also learnt that a Little Grebe and a Dabchick are one and the same…sometimes you painfully realise how very little you know.

Another mystery


Catch-up blog for 19 May.

I went to see if the (White) Purslane was out at the East Lomond – not yet. Along the side of the hill I found these. I think they’re male and female flowers of a carex, but not sure.

Update! A kind person on the Flickr Wildflowers group has identified them as two separate plants, Spring sedge (carex caryophyllea) and Good Friday Grass (Luzula campestris).