Guelder Rose in Assynt

December 12th 2019

Guelder Rose in Assynt

On the sunny afternoon of 20th September 2019 I took a walk up the River Inver from the village, with stepson Nick and his wife Rhonda, admiring the wild waters of the river in spate (photo 1).  At the bottom end of the Star Pool (NC1023) we crossed the footbridge over the weir and sat for a while, before returning.

On the far bank, just below the north side of the weir, I noticed the reddening leaves of a shrub I hadn’t seen for some time, and never before in this place, guelder rose Viburnum opulus (photo 2).  Its twigs are angled and its leaves look a bit like those of a maple (photo 3), but are typically three-lobed.

It is a rare shrub in Assynt, usually growing singly on or near a watercourse.  It occurs below the path in the gorge further to the west, and just above the Loch Assynt sluices, some way to the east, otherwise only at six other sites in the parish, so far as we know (see map from the Flora of Assynt, 2002, photo 4).

In 2004 Alex Scott told us about a single bush found by him and the late Chris Ferreira in a ‘new’ locality at the foot of Cnoc na Cairidh, west of Unapool (NC2232), which we visited in September of that year.  We were able to locate it from its clusters of bright-red, juicy berries, which are soon picked off by birds (photos 5 and 6).  Those on the bush beside the river had already been removed.

Words and photos Ian M. Evans

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