I had the good fortune last week to be involved in field work in the Scottish Highlands, along with RBGE arborist Paul Mullany and Natsha de Vere from the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
As part of a project to DNA barcode all of the UK native flora we were searching for populations of the rare tufted saxifrage, Saxifraga cespitosa.
Paul and I had found it a few weeks earlier in the Ben Avon area and this was another remote site with multiple populations to search for. With landowner permission we cut our walking time in to Culra bothy dramatically, and were able to drive in the 15 kilometre track along Loch Ericht. Although our searches of the first couple of sites were unsucessful, there was much rejoicing on day two when we located our target plant. We collected a single leaf from all the larger clumps that we found, which will be used to analyse the population structure of this species.
This species seemed to thrive on steep, loose friable rock, making for interesting access and difficult terrain to work in. It also gave us some amazing views of corries that you would never normally enter on a normal day in the hills.
All in all a fantastic week of work, with the excitement of finding a rare plant in a remote and beautiful environment.
For even more photos of our week in the Highlands see the Facebook page.