2022 County Report for Orkney

John Crossley

Again this year the focus has been on projects and re-finding uncommon species rather than area recording.

Dryas octopetala (Mountain Avens) is a rare plant here, with probably just five sites ever recorded, all in precipitous places on Hoy, so it was rewarding to re-find two of them (following one in 2021).

Also on Hoy, several plants of the locally scarce Kalmia procumbens (Trailing Azalea) were found at a new site slope.

It was a good year for Pseudorchis albida (Small White Orchid), which re-appeared at several sites where previously recorded but not for some years.

Eupatorium cannabinum (Hemp Agrimony) is rare in the far north and hitherto known in Orkney from just one site, so a new site on Scapa Flow cliffs was a good find by naturalist Martin Gray.

Efforts continue to get to grips with Hieracium (Hawkweed) species, which have not been seriously tackled for around 100 years. Assistance from the referee, the ever-helpful Brian Burrow, remains indispensable! This year H. scoticum and H. subscoticum were found thriving on grassy cliffs in the Longhope area, with a little H. maritimum and what may be a new species.

I participated in a bio-blitz, gave a talk on plants and their habitats on the island of Egilsay, ran an outdoor workshop on grasses on Hoy and was involved in a short film about grasses with a poet and an artist/photographer, made for the 2022 Orkney Science Festival. The film can still be seen at https://oisf.org/fest-event/film-when-the-grass-dances/