2023 County Report for Stirlingshire

Matt Harding and Phil Sansum

2023 saw interesting finds and re-finds made across Stirlingshire, a draft Rare Plant Register published, collaboration with RBGE on the Darwin Tree of Life Project, and with TWIC to identify and designate Local Nature Conservation Sites.

Atriplex longipes (Long-stalked Orache) was re-found after 40 years at its most northerly British site during a SHARPP search, along with two Atriplex hybrids new to the Firth of Forth. Other notable SHARPP successes included Potamogeton friesii (Flat-stalked Pondweed) re-found after 35 years.

New sites for Bidens cernua (Nodding Bur-marigold, pictured) and Juncus filiformis (Thread Rush) were welcome discoveries; the appearance of Crassula helmsii (New Zealand Pygmyweed) on Loch Lomond less so. The hybrid Rumex × platyphyllus was found amongst the R. aquaticus (Scottish Dock) population on Endrick Water, and further monitoring is needed.

A BSBI field meeting to Mugdock Country Park discovered Centaurea debauxii (Chalk Knapweed), new to VC86, a first record of Hieracium sparsifolium (Sparse-leaved Hawkweed) since 1896, and a new site for Parietaria judaica (Pellitory-of-the-wall). New critical taxa for VC86 included H. strictiforme (Strict Hawkweed) and Taraxacum rubicundum (Ruddy Dandelion). Thanks to Angus Hannah’s excellent bramble workshops, an effort to record Rubus taxa across Stirlingshire is now underway.

Urban botanising was very rewarding in 2023, with Malcolm Macneill recording new sites for Oxybasis rubra (Red Goosefoot) and Saxifraga tridactylites (Rue-leaved Saxifrage). Malcolm’s finds of Setaria pumila (Yellow Bristle-grass) and Panicum miliaceum (Common Millet) were new for VC86.

In the mountains, Dan Watson rediscovered Deschampsia cespitosa ssp. alpina (Alpine Hair-grass) on Ben Lomond after 64 years. Polystichum lonchitis (Holly-fern) records from Dan, Alasdair Eckersall and David Allsop were also very welcome.

A big thank you to all who recorded in Stirlingshire in 2023!

Atriplex longipes (Long-stalked Orache)

Atriplex longipes (Long-stalked Orache) at Pow Burn, where it was found by Clive Stace in 1984 – its most northerly British station. Many thanks to John Akeroyd for confirming the identification

Adoxa moschatellina (Moschatel)

Adoxa moschatellina (Moschatel) on the banks of the River Avon – a sizeable new population running near-continuously for 300+ m

Potentilla verna (Spring Cinquefoil)

Potentilla verna (Spring Cinquefoil), a highlight of the flora of Double Craigs SSSI and the only post-2000 site for this species in Stirlingshire

Orchis mascula (Early Purple-orchid)

Orchis mascula (Early Purple-orchid) growing on ledges at Double Craigs SSSI, out of reach of grazers

Potamogeton (Pondweed) sampling for DToL Project

RBGE staff Andy Griffith and Connie Simon-Nutbrown processing pondweed samples for the Darwin Tree of Life Project on the Forth & Clyde Canal

BSBI field meeting to Mugdock Country Park

Discussing the features of Nuphar pumila (Least Water-lily) and N. lutea (Yellow Water-lily) on the BSBI field meeting to Mugdock Country Park! Photo courtesy of Catherine Macnaughton

Lysimachia thyrsiflora (Tufted Loosestrife)

Lysimachia thyrsiflora (Tufted Loosestrife) growing on the Forth & Clyde Canal. Stirlingshire is one of this species’ key strongholds

Orchid monitoring at Dumbrock Loch Meadows SSSI

Bill Parkes surveying species-rich grassland at Dumbrock Loch Meadows SSSI. Orchid surveys have been undertaken here since 1983, with Bill and Sarah Longrigg currently conducting annual surveys. The most notable change has been for Dactylorhiza viridis (Frog Orchid), down from 266 plants in 1998 to none in 2023

Saxifraga tridactylites (Rue-leaved Saxifrage)

A galaxy of Saxifraga tridactylites (Rue-leaved Saxifrage) colonising gravel in Falkirk, the second site for Stirlingshire

Epipactis helleborine (Broad-leaved Helleborine)

Epipactis helleborine (Broad-leaved Helleborine) in Stirling, demonstrating its ability to adapt to urban environments

Chaenorhinum minus (Small Toadflax)

Chaenorhinum minus (Small Toadflax), a locally scarce species enjoying the conditions in the Stirling Sainsbury’s car park (other supermarkets are available)

Setaria pumila (Yellow Bristle-grass)

Setaria pumila (Yellow Bristle-grass) discovered by Malcolm Macneill in Cumbernauld, new to Stirlingshire, and subsequently found in Stirling as well

Helminthotheca echioides (Bristly Oxtongue)

Helminthotheca echioides (Bristly Oxtongue) at Helix Park, the fifth record for Stirlingshire

Butomus umbellatus (Flowering-rush)

Butomus umbellatus (Flowering-rush), third vice-county record discovered at Balmaha