2021 County Report for Peeblesshire

Luke Gaskell

I have continued to explore sparsely recorded parts of Peeblesshire and have collected 2807 records from 453 taxa, all at monad resolution or better.

While no new natives were found the list of aliens and casuals continues to increase. Early monocots which are apparently spreading from gardens include Scilla forbesii, Glory-of-the-snow, Scilla luciliae, Boissier’s Glory-of-the-snow, both around Eddleston and Crocus tommasinianus, Early Crocus, in Walkerburn and Innerleithen. Eranthis hyemalis, Winter Aconite, was probably spreading from garden rubbish, Eddleston again and Doronicum × willdenowii , Willdenow’s leopard’s-bane, last seen at a single location by David McCosh in 1999 has now extended it’s range along the Eddleston Water to Peebles and will be something to look out for if it continues it’s progress down the Tweed.  Sanguisorba officinalis, Great Burnet, was found by Reuben Singleton in a meadow near the Tweed at Traquair. This is only the second possibly native site in Peeblesshire but like the other location at Calzeat it is very close to a mansion house and I suspect that it is an old introduction. Another interesting pair of plants out of place were Betonica officinalis, Betony, recorded last year by Lindsay Mackinlay and Berula erecta, Lesser Water-parsnip, both above Crookhaugh in the upper Tweed valley. I had been checking the Betony site and adjacent valleys when I came across the Lesser Water-parsnip and realised that both were very closely associated with the pipeline carrying water from Talla reservoir to Edinburgh 32 miles to the north. Lesser Water-parsnip has also been recorded further north by the pipeline in the Bryland Burn, there being only one other locality for it in VC78 . The pipeline was completed in 1905 and upgraded when Fruid reservoir was constructed in the 1960’s. It comprises rock-cut tunnels, cut and fill trenches, syphons and stone aqueducts . It seems possible that these plants which are outside their usual range arrived with the construction equipment or with the building materials which were shipped in on a specially constructed branch line from Broughton.

Last year I had feared that work on the A72 near Cardrona had destroyed the only location for Agrimonia procera, Fragrant Agrimony in VC78 but fortunately it now appears to have survived in a new location near-by.

Lastly I was pleased to find a new site for Carex vaginata, Sheathed Sedge at Ella’s Cleugh in the South of the county. It's an area rich in arctic alpines but vulnerable to changes in land use such as afforestation and wind turbine construction and of course climate change itself.