Mainly about the wild flowers of Fife

Other places

The sea urchin

I’ve never walked south from Arbroath, so went for a short walk on my way home from Balgavies on Monday.

It was lovely – must go back and do a proper walk soon. On a day when there’s a better view…

Some of the highlights:

A wonderful sea urchin.

I’ve only ever found the smallest fragments of shell. It was amazing to find the whole creature. And so vividly coloured.

I left it there, but brought back a small fragment.

The pebbles were beautiful, and it was hard not to fill my pockets and bring them back too. I resisted this one.

Loved this one, which looked as if it had been dusted with gold.

There were some good dunes, but showing signs of erosion.

Didn’t walk as far as Easthaven – next time.


Ospreys and Spearwort

A free Monday! and I decided to go up to Balgavies Loch to see if I could see an osprey or two. And have a look at the plants.

The first birds making their presence felt were these Greylag geese, along with a quieter Swan family.

There was a sweet little butterfly – possibly a Small White female.

I knew I was too late for the Yellow Loosestrife, but there were lots of other water-loving plants around. The star was this Greater Spearwort – huge buttercup flowers at my eye level.

At the edges of the loch were yellow waterlily and this pink flower, which I think is Amphibious Bistort.

Where the path goes behind the trees, the moss was enticing but the biting insects were fierce. The sticky willie was impressive, festooning trees and bushes, bending bramble to the ground.

I was so happy to find an oversized Toadflax – just love these flowers.

And then I was opposite the osprey tree, and so pleased to see one of the birds there.

I’ve watched the Loch of the Lowes ones so much that it felt quite odd to actually see one “in real life”.

Coming back, I liked the mix of Hogweed and fluffy Angelica in this field. (The marsh thistles were also good.)

Meadow above the quarry

A quick Sunday morning visit to see what was flowering in the pasture above the old quarry. The first highlight wasn’t floral.

Male and female Common Blue butterflies – they did some impressive synchronised flying then got together on the nettles.

I liked this combination of lemon yellow Hop Trefoil and the beautiful Selfheal.

There were other good partnerships too. Red clover and yellow Pillosella, for one.

I tried to get a “wildflowerhour” picture of this scabious with Lomonds in the background, but it looks a bit odd.
I didn’t notice the yellow flower photobomb in the background…still, it was a lovely Scabious.

There were still a few orchids in flower. Why is it impossible to get a good picture? Why is the grass behind it in focus? Why does the orchid look as if it’s laughing at me?

On a calmer note, the roadside was bursting with daisies.

Further down, near the junction, I had to stop for this wonderful road verge.

Why can’t they all be like this?

And the bonus was the poppy field.


I had such a good day out with Sheila and the group. At Keltneyburn, we failed to find many different orchids, but thankfully there were loads of Greater Butterfly.

And of course there were other things to consider.

Red seeds of Pignut.


Chimney Sweeper moths mating while two of the little speckled biting beasties got on with it too (not in the picture though).

I was happy to see the Alpine Bistort, but came away without a photo.

At lunch, we found a rather lovely moth.

It seemed quite at home on Mary’s finger.

Afterwards, we went a short way up the path, admiring Oak fern, Wood Geranium and the waterfalls, and then found what Sheila had been looking for.

Small Cow-wheat, Melampyrum sylvaticum. Darker yellow than the Common Cow-wheat. And much rarer.

But that wasn’t the only rare plant we saw. We stopped off at Corsiehill and tried again to find the Whorled Solomon’s Seal – with some success.

We could only see about 10 plants, none of which seemed to be carrying seeds, and they were pretty overgrown with Sweet Cicely etc. But lovely to find it.

Red and green

A bright moment on a dreich day at Auchterarder.

The red spikes are a gall, Eriophyes tilia, which shows up beautifully on the fresh young leaves of the lime tree.
They look a little bit like a colony of red penguins on a green ice field – or is that just me?

Just because I’ve never seen anything like this before.

Recording 8 May (Cupar)

Just a reminder of a good morning recording on my doorstep, but as ever, discovering things I didn’t know were there.

I set out along the road to St Mary’s Farm, recording as I went. Found a little footbridge into an uncultivated area where there was Comfrey.

After a session with the book, I’ve decided to record as Symphytum tuberosum. The only other option on the sheet was uplandicum, which it’s not.

In the hedgerow I found a hawthorn which didn’t look like the usual – the leaves were shinier and rounder.

After some help from Twitter, I checked the styles and yes, there were two – so Crataegus laevigata, not monogyna.

I found a waymarked path which I didn’t know was there, and followed it up the side of a field to a hidden meadow full of yellow flowers. Too late for daffs. I was delighted to find that they were cowslips.

In the same field is a pond with bulrushes, or reedmace, and I’ll go back to explore further with better footwear.

I tried to ID some grasses, but must learn more about them. Loved this one, seen close-up ( Meadow Foxtail?).

And I found a mystery sedum which might be Roseroot, but not sure. So as ever, will have to go back…

Mountain flowers

A belated blog of pictures taken on 13 May when I went back up to Ben Lawers dam to see what had changed since our trip with Sheila.

The roseroot was in flower.

There were Mountain Pansies.

And a trailing (?) azalea.

Lots of moss, but I’ll leave most of it for the moss blog. Just a reminder here.

Up above Cupar

Catching up from a couple of weeks ago.

I ambled up the Owlets Wood path, stopping to listen to yet another invisible chiffchaff in the trees – but this time, I managed to spot him singing. Result. And of course, now that I’d seen one through leaves and branches, on the way back one came and sang from a branch just a few feet away, giving me a perfect view.

However, no pictures. Garlic Hedge Mustard, Alliaria petiolata, is much easier to photograph. This was the first I’ve seen in flower this year.

At the top of the woods, I found a squirrel’s dining table, complete with chewed pine cone.

I turned left along to the road, and stopped again to listen to an invisible willow warbler (in a willow tree). But no luck this time. I thought the track should continue on the other side of the road, going up the hill – but the field was ploughed. However, I kept going, avoiding the crop, and at the top squeezed through a fence into a grassy field leading to the line of beeches I’ve often admired from a distance.

I followed the path next to them just to see where it might lead – will explore this more another time. Then I backtracked and went up to the top of the hill. Most days there would be wonderful views, but the mist was in and the air was hazy.

In the uncultivated ground at the top, there was a spread of Corn Spurrey.

Also, lots of Cerastium glomeratum (I think, because of cluster of flowers in the flower head) with Speedwell and Red Dead-nettle. Somewhere to go back, later.

Then I headed over the grassy field (stopping to look at some moss, which I have decided isn’t Brachythecium albicans, but don’t yet know what it is, and spotting Parsley Piert with it).

There was a gate through to a path downhill through the trees, lovely with new leaves, and this took me to the track back to the road – not where I thought it was. I left further exploration for another day, and headed for the road. Found this mystery seedling.

And another.

Then I looked in the ditch at the side and there were thousands, all along it. The penny dropped – Himalayan Balsam.

Coming back down the Owlet Wood path, there were lots of one of my favourites – Three Nerved Sandwort, Moehringia trinvera.

Ben Lawers

A field trip to Ben Lawers Dam with Sheila’s group which proved that you don’t need to walk miles to find a range of plants not seen on rambles round Fife.

The star was the Purple Saxifrage, saxifraga oppositifolia, which I’ve never seen before.

The leaves are stacked up like Sea Sandwort, and hairy.

A real beauty, on this rocky background.

Then there was Fir Clubmoss, Huperzia selago (upright branches of equal height) and (below) a companion for Alpine alchemilla with its completely divided leaves.

There was a Snow Lichen, Stereocaulon.

And some beautiful mosses. I think the blackish one is Andreaea rupestris, the ginger one is Didymodon insulanis, and the furry one is Racomitrium lanuginosum.

Across the dam, with the weather warming up, we saw another alchemilla, completely different with its fringed leaves. But ID has defeated me.

Sheila told us where to scramble up, and we found the Holly fern just where she said.

At boggy ground level, we found Spring Sedge, Carex caryophyllea, flowering away.

And Wood anemone, unexpected in this open ground but perhaps indicating that it used to be forest.

We all agreed we’ll have to go back later in the season for more. And to look for the Woodsia fern up this gully.

Camilla, Auchtertool

Day 1 of freedom from freedom and I made a start on visiting the New Statistical Account sites, to see what can be re-found.

The minister at Auchtertool listed some tempting plants: Imperatoria ostruthium (not sure, some kind of umbellifer) at Camilla ruins, and Yellow Star of Bethlehem (Gagea lutea), White Butterbur (Petasites albus) and Saxifraga umbrosa (not sure – cousin of London Pride?) at Auchtertool Linn.

I pottered about and found lots of spring flowers.
Barren Strawberry.

Primroses and Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage

One of my favourites, Crosswort, just coming into flower.

It’s one of these plants that I forget about over winter and then remember how much I like it when it appears.

There was moss everywhere.

I found my first Wood anemones of the year! Hanging their heads, and my upwards photo didn’t quite come off.

The rocks at the burn were shaggy with Thamnobryum alopecurum.

Sadly, all the yellow flowers were celandines, but it’s wrong to be sad about that.

Camilla – a strange name – apparently it used to be called Halyards Castle or Palace, but whatever it’s called, there’s not much left at all.

Ground elder leaves everywhere, but I also found some snowdrop leaves and a spread of Few-flowered Garlic, Allium paradoxum.

How did it get here? There was some outside the village, so maybe on someone’s boot?

There were wee lambs in the field, and I enjoyed exploring. Stopped to listen to several invisible chiff-chaffs. Coming back into the village, there’s a wonderfully overgrown wall, with all sorts finding a home there. (Some barren strawberry there at the back.)

So, no luck with the flowers from 170 years ago, but a good morning.