Bugloss reappears in Assynt

July 30th 2015

Bugloss reappears in Assynt

On 8th July, I noticed these rather insignificant blue flowers on a single plant in one of my vegetable beds at Nedd. They bear a passing resemblance to those of a forget-me-not (which is in the same family), but the curiously bristly leaves are the give-away. This is bugloss Anchusa arvensis, an annual weed of cultivation, for which there are only two previous Assynt records.

Pat and I first saw this species locally on 19th June 1996, when we came across just one plant, if I remember correctly, in disturbed sandy ground beside the road at Culkein Stoer (NC037331). It was growing with field pansy Viola arvensis, the only time we ever recorded the latter species. Five days later we went with Ann Cook to a large blow-out on their croft at Clachtoll (NC038280), where bugloss was locally abundant.

John Anthony’s Flora of Sutherland (Kenworthy 1976, p.112) records bugloss (as Lycopsis arvensis) from Assynt, and all four other parishes in West Sutherland, with the comment, ‘In cultivated fields. Frequent.’ Older Assynt records are from Clachtoll (1886), Lochinver and Stoer (1950s). We have seen it more recently (2008 and 2009) in potato patches around Durness. Its rarity nowadays is probably a reflection of the demise of cultivation throughout the north-west.

I must have another look at the Clachtoll locality to see if it persists, after nearly twenty years. Meanwhile, as is often the case, I have no idea how it arrived in Nedd.

Ian Evans

Bugloss Anchusa arvensis Nedd. Photo I. Evans
Bugloss Anchusa arvensis Nedd. Photo I. Evans

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