Nov 162016
 
Telaranea tetradactyla, photographed by David Long (Long 37778)

Telaranea tetradactyla at Benmore, photographed by David Long (Long 37778)

Murphy’s threadwort (Telaranea murphyae) has had a singular position in the British flora. The species was described by renowned bryologist Jean Paton in 1965, from plants collected in the south of England. It’s a tiny leafy liverwort that is found in only four locations, at Tresco and St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly, Branksome Chine, Poole in Dorset and Alum Chine, Bournemouth. Murphy’s threadwort has always been known to be an alien species in our flora, and yet because it’s never been found elsewhere, the sole responsibility for conserving the species lay with the UK. Being non-native, however, it was not considered a priority for UK Biodiversity Action Plans.

Telaranea tetradactyla from the RBGE fern house, photographed by Lynsey Wilson

Telaranea tetradactyla from the RBGE fern house, growing with Conocephalum conicum; photographed by Lynsey Wilson

Using DNA sequence data from the plant, and comparing it to sequences from other related species, we showed that genetically, the English plants are the same species as a New Zealand plant, Long’s threadwort (Telaranea tetradactyla, synonmy Telaranea longii). Long’s threadwort was already known from several locations in the UK, including inside the fernhouse at RBG Edinburgh, and near the fernery in Benmore. These habitats are not entirely coincidental – the Victorian craze for ferns saw many gardens import living tree ferns from countries such as Australia and New Zealand, with many smaller plants hitching a ride along on their trunks. Today, conscious of plant health issues and the potential transport of pathogens, new plant living collections have to spend time in quarantine before being planted out; past gardeners were less careful, and some of these hitchhikers have subsequently escaped into the local landscape.

Telaranea tetradactyla from the RBGE fern house, photographed by Lynsey Wilson

Telaranea tetradactyla from the RBGE fern house, photographed by Lynsey Wilson

Sinking our UK Murphy’s threadwort plants into the New Zealand species means that any conservation requirements now rest instead with New Zealand, although we can continue to enjoy seeing this diminutive mat-forming liverwort in its select few UK locations.

 

 

Key reference: Porley, R.D., 2013, England’s Rare Mosses and Liverworts. Princeton University Press.

 

 

Villarreal et al. 2014, Journal of Bryology 36(3): 191-199

Villarreal et al. 2014, Journal of Bryology 36(3): 191-199

 

Mar 312016
 
Mary Gibby and Heather McHaffie

Protection of the habitat is a perhaps the most effective method of conservation of plant diversity, yet this alone cannot guarantee the survival of some of our most threatened species. Changing climate, the introduction of new predators or diseases, and many other factors can affect the survival of a small population. To best achieve success in conservation, knowledge of the plants’ biology, its life cycle and population structure together with information on the reason’s for decline of a population are all essential ingredients for the maintenance of a population. A strategy for conservation for one species may differ considerably from that of another species.

Two fern species have been the subject of conservation programmes by two of our Research Associates, Mary Gibby and Heather McHaffie. What they share in common is the reason for their past decline; both were targets of enthusiastic collectors, especially during the second half of the nineteenth century, when the Victorian fern craze – so-called “Pteridomania” – was at its height. The ferns were sought out for private collections of pressed specimens or for cultivation, often in glazed Wardian cases, to ornament elegant drawing rooms.

Mary Gibby and Heather McHaffie

Mary Gibby – First female Director of Science at RBGE (left)
Heather McHaffie– former Scottish Plants Officer at RBGE

We have good documentary evidence of the decline of the two species, preserved for posterity in the herbarium at RBGE. Although RBGE was founded in 1670, the establishment of the herbarium dates from 1873 when the collections of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh (B.S.E., now the Botanical Society of Scotland) were donated to the Garden.  Amongst the plants collected by members of this august society is small specimen of the Killarney Fern, Trichomanes speciosum, the first record of this plant from Scotland. It was discovered in 1863 by Robert Douglas, the ‘walking postman’ of Arran. His find was confirmed by the Edinburgh naturalist W. B. Simpson, who suggested that Douglas should keep the information secret. Douglas, however, showed the site to George Coombe of Glasgow, who returned and stripped the site almost bare. The annotated herbarium sheet (Figure 1) with two small fronds includes a letter from George Coombe.

Trichomanes speciosum Killarney Fern

Figure 1: Trichomanes speciosum (Killarney Fern)

The decline of Oblong Woodsia, Woodsia ilvensis, is linked closely to the opening up of the railways. A major centre of the distribution of this little plant was the hills around Moffat, in southern Scotland, and fern enthusiasts were so keen to acquire specimens that a trade in the plant grew up for visiting tourists at Moffat station. In a report of a plant hunting trip by a few friends from the B.S.E., they describe after a very long search finding five plants of the Woodsia, four of which they collected, leaving one behind as “an egg in the nest”! Two large pressed whole plants from this expedition are on the sheet in Figure 2.

Woodsia ilvensis Oblong Woodsia

Figure 2: Woodsia ilvensis (Oblong Woodsia)

 

Both ferns are of conservation concern in the UK, and the Killarney Fern is included in the EU Habitats Directive. In Species Action Plans developed in the 1990s, it was proposed that for both species conservation action through restoration should be considered. Study of the biology of the Killarney Fern has shown that the fern has two distinct and long-lived forms to its life cycle; the normal spore bearing fern (sporophyte) with a creeping rhizome is confined to very humid, shady conditions usually below 50m altitude, whilst the gametophyte generation, with a green filamentous structure that bears the sex organs, thrives in deep crevices, and under very low light conditions. Whilst the distribution of the fern is extremely limited, being confined mostly to a few sites in western Britain and Ireland, the gametophyte is much more widespread, on the north, south east and west coasts of the UK, and the gametophyte populations carry much more genetic diversity that that remaining in the few sporophyte populations. The gametophytes are a living spore-bank that has the potential to give rise to further sporophyte populations under warmer and wetter conditions. Re-introductions have been deemed inappropriate for this species.

There are now fewer than 100 plants of Oblong Woodsia in the UK. One population near Moffat has been seen to decline from c. 25 plants down to only three in the last forty years, and with the exception of a population of over 60 plants in England, many of the Scottish and Welsh populations are limited to less than six plants. It is still unclear why the species continues to decline, and why new plants are failing to establish. Andrew Ensoll has had great success in establishing a very large ex-situ collection at RBGE of the species from spores collected under licence from throughout the species’ range. With the support of Scottish Natural Heritage and Natural England several new populations have been established in areas where the species has been lost, and these continue to be monitored. There has been fairly good survival of these re-introductions, but despite some having been established for 15 years, there is still no evidence of natural regeneration in the wild.

One of the few plants left of Woodsia ilvensis growing wild in Scotland

One of the few plants left of Woodsia ilvensis growing wild in Scotland

The next generation of females in science takes this work forward – Nadia Russell, a PhD student based at the Garden, is carrying out further research on the genetics of the species to see whether genetic rescue is feasible.

 

 

AthenaSWAN logo

 

 

Mar 172016
 

The Sapotaceae plant family provides us with some wonderful examples of the sometimes intricate interactions plants have with animals. One of the more intriguing cases is that of the so called dodo tree, or tambalacoque. Like many members of the Sapotaceae family the tambalacoque tree, known to botanists as Sideroxylon grandiflorum, is a tropical species. It is found only on the island of Mauritius, home of the now extinct flightless dodo bird.

Early engraving of a dodo, the famous extinct flightless bird from Mauritius.

Early engraving of a dodo, the famous extinct flightless bird from Mauritius.

In the 1970s there was concern that the tambalacoque tree was on the brink of extinction. There were supposedly only 13 specimens left, all estimated to be about 300 years old. The true age could not be determined because, like most tropical trees, tambalacoque has no growth rings. Scientist Stanley Temple came up with the theory that the tree relied upon the dodo to complete its life cycle. Temple thought that before the tough seeds would germinate they must first pass through the digestive system of the dodo. The idea was that the abrasion in the bird’s gizzard and the stomach acids would start to breakdown the seeds surface, allowing water to penetrate and triggering germination.

The extinction of the dodo in the 17th century, due to hunting by people, was linked by Temple to the absence of young trees. Put simply, the extinction of the dodo was preventing the tambalacoque from regenerating and the tree seemed doomed to go the same way.

This was a compelling and plausible story, and not surprisingly captured people’s attention. However, the story has a more positive postscript. Further research has shown that surviving tortoises are also likely to disperse the seeds of this tree, and more tambalacoque trees have been found, including some younger individuals. Although now discredited as the sole agent of dispersal, the dodo’s relationship with this tree still continues to fascinate.

Animal interactions with other members of the Sapotaceae family include some equally fascinating stories. A relative of the tambalacoque in the same genus, Sideroxylon inerme, the white milkwood tree, attracts a wide variety of animals to feed on its flowers and fruits. This southern African coastal tree has fruits, similar to blackberries, that are delicacies for bats, monkeys and bush pigs. While the small, greenish and rather malodorous flowers, are a favourite food of the speckled mousebird with its distinctive brown head crest.

Speckled mousebirds eat the flowers of white milkwood trees, Sideroxylon inerme.

Speckled mousebirds eat the flowers of white milkwood trees, Sideroxylon inerme.

Whole fruit of Omphalocarpum from the research collection in the Herbarium.

Whole fruit of Omphalocarpum from the research collection in the Herbarium. The image behind shows the trunk of a tree studded with fruit.

In Africa’s tropical forests Omphalocarpum elatum produces fruits that can be as much as two kilos in weight. These large fruits are sought after by the forest elephants, and it is only the elephants that can break through the hard shell. When the fruit falls to the ground the sound echoes through the depths of the forest and attracts elephants. They always follow a specific path, specially carved out of the forest to the Omphalocarpum tree. After positioning the fruit with their trunk, the elephants skewer it with a tusk and split it open. This interaction is ecologically important, as seeds pass through the elephant’s digestive system and germinate more easily. The close connection between Omphalocarpum trees and elephants echoes the dodo tree story. However, here the tree does seem to rely on just one animal to disperse its seeds. Declines in forest elephant populations really could put pressure on Omphalocarpum trees, and this is a good example of the often unexpected interconnections in nature. This particular interaction has only recently been discovered and a short video clip of elephants feeding on Omphalocarpum fruit can be seen here.

Antheraea paphia, one of the moth species that is the source of wild silk.

Antheraea paphia, one of the moth species that is the source of wild silk.

Travelling from Africa to India, there is another species of tree in the Sapotaceae family of high economic and ecological interest. The tree in question is Madhuca longifolia, and it is vital for the life cycle of the moth – Antheraea paphia. The larvae of this moth are silkworms and they eat the leaves of the tree before building their cocoons. It is these cocoons that are collected from the wild and processed to produce the sought after wild silk, also called tussar silk. This type of silk is commercially important in India and is appreciated for its special qualities.

As well as their stories these trees show us a fundamental aspect of nature. Interactions between animals and plants are everywhere. They are both complex and dynamic, but fragile at the same time. If we ignore these connections between plants and animals more species will face the same fate as the dodo.

This post is by guest blogger Theodora Mouschounti, an MSc student studying Science Communication and Public Engagement at The University of Edinburgh. It was researched during preparations for a major new exhibition about the Sapotaceae plant family – Nature Mother of Invention – at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Nov 172015
 
Male blackbird eating berries of common yew Taxus baccata.

Male blackbird eating berries of common yew Taxus baccata.

The idea that a story about a male yew tree producing a female branch would go viral and attract massive media attention would have seemed highly unlikely a month ago. Nevertheless, this is exactly what happened with the Fortingall Yew when it was noticed that a group of three yew berries (technically called arils) were present on a branch within this otherwise male tree. The first coverage was in the Scottish Mail on Sunday on the 1st November and then most of the major newspapers picked up the story during the following week. To date the story has featured around the world and has made the pages of such unlikely publications as The Spectator and The Economist. There was even an appearance on the satirical BBC programme Have I Got News for You.

One result of all this media coverage has been the many comments from people. Among these there have been some intersting observations of the poorly understood phenomenon of partial sex change in yew trees. At least one person pointed out that this is not a new observation, although that was never claimed. A Polish study published in Dendrobiology in 2004 that looked at nearly 3,000 yew trees found that less than 1% had both sexes on one tree. Yews with both sexes have been reported from time to time for over 100 years, but they certainly seem to be pretty rare.

Perhaps the most exciting comment was from Janis Fry who got in touch to say she had seen a female branch on the Fortingall Yew back in 1996. From comparing notes it seems likely we have both observed the same branch, so this raises the possibility that the branch has been female since at least 1996. Janis said that she has been studying yew trees for over 40 years and in all that time she has only seen 12-15 trees that display both sexes on one tree.

Yew berries showing the distinctive fleshy aril that surrounds a single seed.

Yew ‘berries’ showing the distinctive fleshy aril that surrounds a single seed.

Although the mechanism of sex determination in yew trees is unknown, scientists have noticed a correlation between conifers that have the sexes on separate trees and the production of fleshy fruits. Yew is a nice example of this. The fleshy aril is evolved to attract birds with its bright red colour. The theory is that the reproductive benefits of having animal dispersed seeds outweighs the cost to the female tree of investing so much energy in producing large edible fruits. It seems that the yew ‘berry’ is a key product of evolution that enables yew trees to have separate sexes. There are other examples of this strategy in the collections at the Botanics. The Chilean Plum Yew (not a yew, but a distantly related conifer in the genus Prumnopitys) normally has the sexes on separate trees and has edible green ‘plums’ on female trees. Curiously, a male tree here at the Garden was observed to produce a few fruit in recent years, mirroring the situation with the Fortingall Yew.

All this interest in yew trees and their curious sexual habits has been a golden opportunity to promote the ongoing project to establish a yew conservation hedge around the Garden. This work involves the phased replacement of the existing hedge with a new yew hedge composed of around 2,000 plants raised from wild collected seed and cuttings that will encircle the Garden and provide a resource for research into yew genetic diversity across its wide native range. Ultimately, trees could even be returned to areas where yew is under threat of extinction.

Oct 232015
 
Yew berries showing the distinctive fleshy aril that surrounds a single seed.

Yew berries showing the distinctive fleshy aril that surrounds a single seed.

The Fortingall Yew in Perthshire is a tree of international renown as potentially the oldest individual tree in Europe. It has been suggested that it could be as much as 5,000 years old, but this is not universally accepted and needs some qualification. For a start this is an estimate based on a girth measurement of 56 feet by Thomas Pennent in 1769. In old yews the definitive evidence in the form of annual growth rings has long since rotted away. The word ‘individual’ becomes important in qualifying this assertion as we now know certain trees clone themselves and can greatly exceed 5,000 years. Nevertheless, it is still a remarkable thought that this invidual yew tree could have been growing before the Great Pyramid of Giza or Stonehenge were even begun.

The first thing visitors notice about this ancient tree is that it is surrounded by a small enclosure built of stone with sections of iron railings giving glimpses of the ancient hulk within. The whole experience is reminiscent of a trip to the zoo. This unfortunate state of affairs came about as a way of putting off unscrupulous souvenir hunters who would help themselves to parts of the tree.

Male cones on the yew are small and spherical and shed copious pollen when they mature.

Male cones on the yew are small and spherical and shed copious pollen when they mature during winter and early spring.

Closer examination reveales the Fortingall Yew is a male tree. Yews are normally either male or female and in autumn and winter sexing yews is generally easy. Males have small spherical structures that release clouds of pollen when they mature. Females hold bright red berries from autumn into winter. It was, therefore, quite a surprise to me to find a group of three ripe red berries on the Fortingal yew this October when the rest of the tree was clearly male. Odd as it may seem, yews, and many other conifers that have separate sexes, have been observed to switch sex. Normally this switch occurs on part of the crown  rather than the entire tree changing sex. In the Fortingall Yew it seems that one small branch in the outer part of the crown has switched and now behaves as female.

Part of the conservation yew hedge that will ultimately encircle the Garden with over 2,000 individuals yews from ancient trees and wild collections.

Part of the conservation yew hedge that will ultimately encircle the Garden with over 2,000 individuals yews.

Three seeds have been collected and will be included in an ambitious project to conserve the genetic diversity of yew trees across their geographic range including Europe, the Caucasus, Western Asia and North Africa. The project will see the exisitng perimeter hedges at the Botanics replaced by a conservation yew hedge grown from cuttings and seed collections made from wild populations and significant ancient trees like the Fortingall Yew. The first phases of planting went in the ground in 2014 and on completion the hedge will encircle the Garden with a remarkable genetic resource of over 2,000 individual trees, each of which will have a story and can be traced back to their origins in Britain or beyond. This hedge could well be the largest conservation hedge of its kind anywhere in the world.

As it matures the hedge will display a range of characteristics reflecting the genetic diversity of the many individual trees involved and as such it will not look like any existing yew hedge. The Fortingall Yew itself will be represented in the hedge and so too, all being well, will its offspring via the curious ability of yew trees to change sex.

A visit to the Fortingall Yew on 12th October 2015 when three yew berries were collected from one discreet part of the canopy.

A visit to the Fortingall Yew on 12th October 2015 when three yew berries were collected from one discreet part of the canopy.

Aug 192014
 
Snow-beds provide a specialised habitat for communities of lichens and bryophytes in Scotland's mountains.

Snow-beds provide a specialised habitat for communities of lichens and bryophytes in Scotland’s mountains.

In May, Scotland published its first Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme –  a set of actions to increase Scotland’s resilience to the impacts of a changing climate.

RBGE is helping to produce a number of climate change indicator cards for the natural environment. The cards, developed by ClimateXChange, measure progress in how we are helping nature to adapt to climate change.

The most recent card explains the status of specialist snow-bed bryophytes. In collaboration with SNH and the University of Bergen, RBGE will be re-surveying snow-bed sites over the next three years to update our knowledge.

Oct 292013
 
Isik working on the painting of Gunnera.

Isik working on the painting of Gunnera.

The herbarium at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is an archive of preserved plants that is also a hive of activity; botanists busying themselves describing new species or curating and archiving historical or recently collected plant specimens from around the world. But there are other related and highly appropriate activities that go ‘hand-in-glove’ with this taxonomic research such as botanical illustration. On the top floor of RBGE’s herbarium at one of the north-facing benches where the light is crisp but not too strong, can be found a highly accomplished artist – Işık Güner.

Botanical painting of Gunera tinctoria.

Botanical painting of Gunnera tinctoria.

RBG Edinburgh has a reputation for being a world-leading centre for teaching and training botanical artists and as such attracts some of the most talented illustrators to help teach the many courses the Garden offers. Işık is a visiting tutor from Turkey and is one of three Turkish artists who are contributing to the prestigious project ‘Plants from the Woods and Forests of Chile’. This book, featuring 80 watercolour paintings showing the remarkable diversity of plants from Chile will be published in 2015. Işık has painted 42 Chilean plants for this book but perhaps none has been as demanding as her present ‘labour of love’ – Gunnera tinctoria. It has taken three months of commitment and sheer determination to paint this extraordinary plant and Işık has produced an astonishing painting.

Isik collecting material for the painting.

Isik collecting material for the painting.

It was almost 3 years ago that she started to mentally prepare herself and gather the materials for this painting. This has taken her to RBGE’s regional gardens at Dawyck and Benmore and a long journey to southern Chile in order to collect and study research materials. More details about the book can be found at http://chileanplants.rbge.org.uk/en/ and to learn more about the work of Işık visit her webpage at http://www.isikguner.com/

Oct 102013
 
First flower in cultivation of Valdivia

First flower in cultivation of Valdivia gayana

Valdivia gayana is a diminutive woody perennial from Chile that could be mistaken for a dandelion when not in flower. In fact, the local Chilean name ‘Planta de León’ may suggest that others have thought the same. It is nothing like the common dandelion – not even close.  Unlike the dandelion which grows all over the temperate world, this threatened plant only occurs in a small area of the temperate rainforests of southern Chile. It grows with ferns, myrtles and the national flower of Chile, Lapageria rosea. It grows in rocky, shady and damp places and the first time Martin Gardner, RBGE expert on Chilean plants, saw Valdivia gayana it was growing out of the crevices in the rocky walls of a cave, fed by drips from the roof. Seeds collected in March 2012 were sown at RBGE by Andrew Ensoll, Senior Horticulturist. In June 2013, after nine months of careful cultivation, the first flower buds were seen rising on hairy stalks from the crowns of the low growing plants. In late September they finally opened up to reveal the brightest pink petals and yellow pollen within.

Lapegeria rosea the national flower of Chile is a characteristic plant of the temperate rainforest where Valdivia grows

The national flower of Chile, Lapegeria rosea, is a characteristic plant of the temperate rainforest where Valdivia grows

Many flowering plants grow in damp and dark conditions – but do you know of any other flowering plants which live happily in caves? There are always exceptions in the plant world, but surely not many? The other surprising fact about this plant is that it is in the family Escalloniaceae. This means it is related to the large woody Escallonias we generally think of as being tough-as-old-boots and frequently seen as hedging and mass plantings in gardens, parks, roundabouts and car parks. The flowers certainly show a resemblance to the family, but the form of the plant is completely different. Chilean researchers are conducting studies on the few surviving natural populations of these plants to find out more about where and how it grows. As far as we know no one else is cultivating this plant anywhere in the world, even in Chile – we would like to know if they are.

It is species such as Valdivia gayana which remind us that we still have a lot to learn about the world of plants and that by working with researchers in other countries, collecting seed, cultivating them and sharing the information can really help us to discover fascinating information about their biology, distribution and growing requirements. All of which will hopefully lead to practical long-term conservation.

Valdivia gayana growing near the mouth of a cave in Chile

Valdivia gayana growing near the mouth of a cave in Chile

Oct 092013
 
Maiden pink

Maiden pink

Holyrood Park is home to a great variety of plants. Among them are some that are relative rarities and these are carefully monitored by the Historic Scotland Ranger Service. Wild plants have been recorded in the Edinburgh area for more than two centuries and as a result we have a picture of how the local distribution of particular rare plants has changed through time. The maiden pink (Dianthus deltoides) is an example of a plant that may never have been common, but is now at risk of local extinction having seemingly been reduced to a single population at Holyrood Park.

Maiden pink at the only known Edinburgh site

Maiden pink at the only known Edinburgh site

The earliest record of maiden pink in the Edinburgh area comes from an unpublished manuscript written by Robert Brown in 1792. Brown was a botanist from Montrose who was studying medicine in Edinburgh. Medicine and botany were closely linked at this time as so many medicines were derived from plants. Among his many plant records Brown includes the maiden pink which he saw at Blackford Hill in Edinburgh. His account suggests the plant was not particularly rare, and yet no recorded sightings of the plant at this site appear to exist after 1894 when Sonntag mentioned the plant as being found at Blackford Hill and Arthur’s Seat. Other historic sites from the 19th century include Banks of Lochend and Braid Hill.

In the 20th century four additional sites have been recorded and of these Wester Craiglockhart Hill is the only one with detailed locality information. Despite repeated survey none of these populations have been refound.

Holyrood Park Ranger planting maiden pink

Holyrood Park Ranger planting maiden pink

This decline is not unique and the Edinburgh Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) seeks to bring organisations and individuals together to take action for nature. The Edinburgh City Council Rare Plants Project is part of the LBAP and has highlighted two other plants in addition to maiden pink that need conservation action – sticky catchfly (Silene viscaria) and rock whitebeam (Sorbus rupicola). Action for all four species is being taken at Holyrood Park and a new reintroduction programme for maiden pink means that all three species have been part of projects that have sought to increase the numbers of plants by using locally collected seeds to grow plants for reintroduction to the wild. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh helped to plant around 200 small plants of maiden pink on 9th October 2013 at five sites around Holyrood Park. The plan is to monitor the plants to see how they respond and to follow up with further introduction of plants and/or seeds sown direct in the future. If the reintroduction is successful the next step will be to return maiden pink to some of the other sites around the City where we know it grew in the past.

Planting maiden pink above Duddingston Loch

Planting maiden pink above Duddingston Loch

Oct 042013
 

As part of the Scottish Plants Project we are trying to understand the propagation requirements of 170 of Scotlands’s most threatened or vulnerable species. We are well on the way to achieving this, but some of the trickier characters have been left till last. Many plants have mycorrhizal associations with fungi in order to exploit their soil environment more effectively. However mycorrhiza are essential even for the germination of many orchid seeds. So to work out how to grow some of our threatened Scottish orchids, first of all we need to know which fungi they require to germinate.

There is an established technique for doing this which involves collecting seed, packeting it into very fine mesh within glassless slide mounts and then reburying these packets in the same site as the seed was collected. This is exactly what we set out to do over the last month, collecting seeds from two sites in the Cairngorms, then cleaning and packeting it and returning it back again.

Ripe seed heads of Pseudorchis albida, Small White Orchid

Ripe seed heads of Pseudorchis albida, Small White Orchid

Packeting up orchid seeds

Packeting up orchid seeds

Andy Scobie, Cairngorms Rare Plants Officer, reburying seed packets.

Andy Scobie, Cairngorms Rare Plants Officer, reburying seed packets.

 

 

We will return next Summer to excavate a proportion of the packets and see if the seeds have started to germinate. If they have, then further investigations can be made into which fungi are involved.