Bladder campion new to Assynt
On 14th July I was taking a walk around Culkein Stoer with Pat’s daughter-in-law, Rhonda. On our way back from the cliffs we cut across the road junction near the ice-houses and I noticed several clumps of a tall white-flowered plant in a small paddock next to the old house (NC037331). A specimen was collected for identification and it proved to be bladder campion Silene vulgaris, a species that has never before been noted in Assynt. The white-petalled flowers are contained in swollen pinkish calyces, hence the name.
There are only two previous records for West Sutherland, one from the Scourie area (NC14), where it was noted as an ‘alien’ at some time between 1987 and 1999, and a much older one (prior to 1970), mapped as a ‘native’, from the vicinity of Melvich (NC86). There are a couple of old records from Caithness, but otherwise no others from the north Highlands. Its close but smaller relative sea campion Silene uniflora is of course widespread around the coasts of Scotland and sometimes found inland.
Bladder campion does not feature in the horticultural plant-finder I have, there appears to be none in the adjacent garden, and I cannot, at the moment, guess how it arrived at Culkein Stoer, or when, since it seems to be very well-established.
Thanks to David Haines for his excellent close-up of the flowers.