2022 County Report for Peeblesshire

Luke Gaskell

I continue to concentrate on the under recorded parts of Peeblesshire with some exceptions for urban areas and parts of the county that are being afforested. I recorded 3638 plants with 519 individual species and sub-species in monads during 32 days of field work last year.

One problem that has arisen is how to distinguish between species that have been deliberately planted or sown compared to those that have arrived naturally or spread unintentionally.  For example, Crassula tillaea (Mossy Stonecrop) is a native of southern England, but is now spreading north and often found in car parks. It arrived at the Station Road car park in Peeblesshire and survived for a few months, before falling victim to the councils ongoing war on street weeds. Curiously its spread has been associated with railway stations in the north, but the railway in Peebles is long gone.

Another example is the annual Agrostemma githago (Corncockle) that I found growing amongst nettles on a road verge and recorded as an introduction.  However, with global warming it is possible that it is setting viable seed and hence could now persist naturally.

Finally I find the afforestation of Gameshope estate concerning.  I am recording the change of species related to the new regime of moving from sheep to trees.  Some of the species planted have never been recorded in Peeblesshire and hence are of note.  At present Orchis mascula, (Early-purple Orchid), Trollius europaeus (Globeflower) and Asplenium viride (Green Spleenwort) are doing well on this estate, it will be interesting to monitor their continuing success.

Ceratochloa carinata (California Brome)

1st VC record. This striking Brome is described by Tom Cope as a rapidly spreading neophyte which was first recorded as an escape from The Royal Botanic Garden at Kew in around 1919 and there are now scattered records across Scotland. This specimen is from a weedy street planter in Peebles where it was growing in association with Avena fatua (Wild-oat). It is possible that it arrived with manure or perhaps bird feed.

Hordeum jubatum (Foxtail Barley)

1st VC record. Roughly fifty plants were found growing on a disused slipway in the drawdown zone of the Megget reservoir in upland Peeblesshire. This neophyte has a predominantly southern distribution usually preferring drier ground but it also thrives on salted road verges and especially favours roundabouts. Its presence at 340 meters altitude some 70 meters below its highest recorded location by the A701 at the near-by Devil’s Beef Tub, Dumfriesshire, is surprising.

Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail)

A first record for the 10km square. Polmood Craig is a north facing cory below Broad Law which at 840 meters is the highest hill in Peeblesshire. There are a few rocky buttresses but it largely comprises loose rock and scree which is easily accessible to the Polmood estate sheep . The horsetail was growing in a small wet flushed area in association with Cochlearia pyrenaica (Pyrenean Scurvygrass), Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage) and abundant Sedum villosum (Hairy Stonecrop).

Populus nigra subsp. betulifolia (Black-poplar)

Second VC record. Reuben Singleton found this old male tree which is growing by a ditch near the Eddleston Water just above Peebles. It is likely to have been planted but this could have been accidental as the ditch is mostly lined with Populus tremula (Aspen). This is the first recent record for Black-poplar, G C Druce first recorded it at Traquair East of Peebles in 1918 and David McCosh recorded that “one vast fallen tree remained… in 1983”. The sub-species is not however noted.

Asplenium viride (Green Spleenwort) on the Gameshope Estate

Asplenium viride (Green Spleenwort)

Growing on the Gameshope Estate (see main report text).

Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) growing on the Gameshope Estate

Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid)

Growing on the Gameshope Estate (see main report text).