On The Wildside

Willow Glove fungus at Threepwood Moss.
Willow Glove fungus at Threepwood Moss.

There have been some remarkable finds of plants and fungi this past year. A few of the highlights included the discovery of the Birds Nest Orchid near Ayton in early June.

This strange orchid has no green leaves and lives as a cluster of roots resembling a birds nest, underground and unseen, only being seen if and when it flowers. An Ayton man contacted me to say a colony he knew about were in flower and after visiting his site we visited a site I had last seen in 1985 and low and behold here were plants in flower, we now have two sites in Berwickshire.

Moonwort is a strange little fern with one upright frond and a little upright fruiting spike which produces the spores, neither usually much more than six inches tall. There are a few sites on the western edge of Berwickshire but in the distant past there was about 20 sites in the eastern and central parts of the County. Last year a wee colony was found on Lamberton Moor and another colony was found by a friend near Lumsdaine this summer.

One day in Duns a lady pointed out a large specimen of Mistletoe high in a Lime tree in the park, it turns out that it was recorded there in the late 1960’s but had not been recorded since. This is the only known wild specimen in Berwickshire or the eastern Borders, it is quite frequent in the southern half of England and there are a few plants in Edinburgh but it is amazing to find that there was one just above our heads in a tree in Duns.

A tiny little orchid which must often go unseen and unrecorded is the Lesser Twayblade. It is only about two inches tall with two small leaves and a spike of tiny greenish brown flowers, as it grows amongst tall heather it is easily overlooked. There are a scattering of records across the County and to my knowledge at least three new sites were found this past summer, at Longformacus, Spottiswoode and Threepwood near Lauder.

Fungi discoveries have also had a remarkable year. The Willow Glove fungus which was found in Gordon Moss last year was discovered this year in Threepwood Moss on an expedition in search of butterflies. Now the only known sites for this fungus in Britain are in Berwickshire and Roxburghshire.

On a visit to Murder Moss near Selkirk to look at a known site of a rare Honey Fungus a little Puffball was found, it turned out to be a Fen Puffball and was new to Scotland and is only known from about six sites in the Fens and one in Westmorland.

Finally just last month a little fungus, Mycena belliae was rediscovered at the Hirsel, it was found there by Miss Bell in 1837 and had not been seen in Berwickshire or in Scotland since, after 173 years it was re-discovered. If 2017 can be just half as good we are in for a good year ahead.

‘Saints and Seabirds St Abb’s Head NNR’ is the title of a talk by Liza Cole to the SWT members on January 5 in Duns Parish Church Hall, doors open from 7.10pm, friends and visitors are welcome.