2020 County Report for Orkney

John Crossley

With Atlas recording past, and restrictions on travel and meeting fellow botanists, it was a year for progressing some overdue projects and tackling critical taxa. Some of these were the result of questions that have arisen over years of extensive recording. For example, a paper on Tripleurospermum (Mayweed) hybrids and subspecies has reached its final draft, also a shorter piece on the occurrence of glands in Dryopteris (Buckler-ferns). Comprehensive data on native Betula pubescens (Downy Birch) on the island of Hoy has been gathered but not yet written up – some of the variation is unexpected and interesting.

At the same time there has been some more general recording and good records in the VC. Jenny Taylor, a BSBI member living in Stromness, found Cochlearia danica (Danish Scurvy-grass) growing around slipways and marshalling areas at the ferry port, a new VCR. She also found, almost certainly, Atriplex × taschereaui (a hybrid Orache), also new. Dactylorhiza incarnata ssp. cruenta (Flecked or Leopard Marsh-orchid) was found on Hoy in 2019, the third Scottish record, by Andrew Upton, another local BSBI member.

The Orkney Field Club and I organised an on-line bioblitz during lock-down, participants recording living things of all kinds in their gardens or close by in a 24-hour period, then posting lists and photos to a dedicated Facebook page. More plants than anything else were recorded, including some unusual ones, by more than 40 contributors. Much to be recommended.