Thursday, 13 May 2010

Ben Lawers NNR

My journey home from my recent Scottish trip took me through Glen Coe and to the Ben Lawers NNR for a lunch break. Some years ago, I read about the alpine flora at Ben Lawers and I was interested to familiarise myself with the area with a view to possibly having a break there in the future.

The visitor centre was closed, which was disappointing, and I travelled on, up the mountain road beyond the centre to a damn where, to avoid the horizontal rain, I had my picnic lunch in the car. Near to where I was parked was this small clump of Purple Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolio) ...


Later I parked near the visitor centre and had a short walk into part of the Reserve where I observed the following two species of lichen on a sapling. The first two pictures are of Physcia aipolia, the first 20mm in diameter, the second 20mm x 40mm. Both are young examples but have typical apothecia with their dark brown to black discs developing.



On the same tree, the following and again young, Toad lichen (Melanohalea exasperata), 20mm in diameter, well named in one sense, because I have been totally exasperated in trying to identify it and in another, because mature examples look like the skin of a toad. After posting my photographs to a Scottish Lichen group, experts have given me advice and positive identifications.


I have read recently that a tree might host as many as twenty different lichens. The picture confirms this to some extent, including the tiny crustose lichen Rinodina sophodes (top, and bottom left immediately under the M. exasperata), Xanthoria polycarpa (centre bottom under the M. exasperata), as well as a few immature lobes of a Physcia species, possibly the Physcia aipolia, as presented above.

6 comments:

holdingmoments said...

Fascinating Emma. So many lichens, it must be a nightmare to ID them.
Love that second from last shot. It's as though someone has placed it in the fork of the tree.

abbey meadows said...

Once again some fantastic shots Emma. I wish I was better at Lichen ID but I can always use your blog as a reference. I like Ben lawers and I have seen many alpine plants in that area...it is a wonderful place.

Roy said...

Good macro shots Emma and a great new Header image as well.

Orchids and Nature said...

Me and Audrey climbed Ben Lawers from the visitors centre a few years ago in the middle of July. On the western slopes we were thrilled to find several good clumps of Moss Campion (Silene Acauis)in full flower.

Wilma said...

That looks like a lovely place, Emma. Those lichens look fleshier that most I see around here. Very intriguing.

Emma Anderson said...

Thank you everyone for your kind comments.