2023 County Report for East Lothian

Marion Moir

  • 14,852 records this year, shared with TWIC and East Lothian Council, mostly all empty Monads have been covered. Refinding old records was also a focus, especially in the Spring.
  • Newsletter for the Lothian Botany Group, Sept 2023 shows an overview of our activities. A programme of walks from May to Aug inclusive was well attended but different people each time, this year we shall concentrate more on recording. Our outings to Aberlady with the Ranger, John Harrison, showing us the rare plants and to Papple Steading for the Wild Flower Meadow were memorable. The WhatsApp has given the group a sense of bonding and useful for plant photo identification.
  • The Sealife Centre at North Berwick was approached to record the flora of the Bass Rock. Old records were from just after the Lighthouse Keepers departure in 1989, and guano built up from the gannets has had a detrimental effect on variety. No Asplenium marinum (Sea Spleenwort) found.
  • Alice Balfour’s plant notebook of c.1890 about plants around Whittingehame, in the RBGE Archives, gave me an introduction to Michael Brander, the owner of Whittingehame Estate and Tower, where interesting plants were found.
  • After our BSBI day at West Barns, Dunbar, showing c.30 people the coastal plants and rare grasses, I sent samples of the Brachypodiums and Carexes to Referees for all the coastal nature reserves. With the help of Michael Wilcox and Oli Pescott, the Brachypodium rupestre at Yellowcraigs was re-identified as Brachypodium phoenicoides, NEW to Scotland.
  • We helped the Council with a Biodiversity Day at Haddington Hospital and contributed ideas for future landscaping.

Various Spring-flowering species

Old records for Spring flowers were re-found: Myosotis ramossissima (Early Forget-me-not), Saxifraga granulata (Meadow Saxifrage), Catapodium rigidum (Fern Grass) and Adoxa moschatellina (Moschatel). Louise Hardy in Dunbar searched the old records of Adoxa.

Drymochloa sylvatica (Wood Fescue)

Drymochloa sylvatica (Wood Fescue) in Woodhall Dean (SWT), the only record in The Lothians, was given a good Grid Ref and found in more places in the glen.

Whittingehame Arboretum

There is an ancient Taxus baccata (Yew) outside the Whittingehame Tower, one of two in East Lothian which are noteworthy. The Whittingehame Arboretum, planted in the 19th Century, is also interesting, and I particularly noted the Whittingehame Eucalyptus and Calocedrus decurrens (California incense-cedar) with its fan shaped branches and ovoid cones.

Senecio sarracenicus (Broad-leaved Ragwort)

Down on the River Papple below Whittingehame Tower grows Senecio sarracenicus (Broad-leaved Ragwort), and it has spread all the way down from Garvald, a tall impressive plant with yellow flowers.

Brachypodium phoenicoides

Brachypodium phoenicoides at Yellowcraigs was NEW to Scotland, has only been found in Britain and Ireland once previously in Devon VC3 in 2004 (Ref BSBI News 143 pages 41-43, Roger Smith), and has been recorded in Denmark and Belgium. Samples from Yellowcraigs have been placed in RBGE Herbarium.