Mainly about the wild flowers of Fife

Other places

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…

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.

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”:

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.

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

Somewhere else (somewhere steep)

A grey and blustery day, and I went up the hill at Vane Farm and followed the path over the hill. Dealt with the steep bits by counting flowers, 51 including Sneezewort, Sticky Groundsel and this pretty little Water Crowfoot.

Then I found a path that went up through the forest and then along the cliffs at the top of the hill, through a spread of heather. Somewhere else! Never been here before. Views were spectacular, even with the weather.

I went on until I reached a trig point.

The rain was heading towards me, so I turned back, but another day I’ll keep going.

Back down at the Loch, I was lucky enough to see my third Little Egret in two days (this one was later chased off by a heron).