Whitlowgrass – an overlooked ‘tiny’

April 11th 2015

Whitlowgrass – an overlooked ‘tiny’

On 7th April 2015 Sarah Jane Millar found patches of these tiny white flowers (about 6mm across) on a sunny bank beside the pavement in Drumbeg (NC1232). They are one of the whitlowgrasses Erophilaspp., an early-flowering annual which has been overlooked by local botanists, including ourselves, until recently. They are now known to be widespread in Assynt in fine sandy soils, often at the edges of pavements and roads, although they also occur in earthy pockets on top of the walls of the Iron Age Dun at Ardvar.

Whitlowgrasses may be distinguished from other small members of the cress family by their leafless flowering stems and forked petals. All our recent records are of glabrous whitlowgrass Erophila glabrescens, in which the petals are only split about halfway to their base. Something else to look for in the spring, though you may need to get down on your hands and knees to properly appreciate it!

Ian Evans

Whitlowgrass Drumbeg. Photo I. Evans
Whitlowgrass Drumbeg. Photo I. Evans

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Recent Sightings

Garganey

single male Loch Neil Bhain (DAH). This is only the third Assynt record of this species. Photo - Gallery Birds (19/05)

Lapwing

three adult birds and one chick, Loch Neil Bhain (DAH) (19/05)

Whimbrel

two birds near Culkein Drumbeg jetty (DAH). Photo - Gallery Birds (19/05)

Risso's Dolphin

four animals off Stoerhead Lighthouse (DAH) (19/05)

Arctic Tern

15+ birds on offshore island Culkein Drumbeg (DAH) (19/05)

Shelduck

pair still present Oldany estuary area (DAH) (19/05)

Golden Plover

at least four birds on grazing land Balchladich (Janet French) (18/05)

Arctic Skua

both a dark and a pale morph bird off Stoerhead Lighthouse (Mal Edwards) (17/05)

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