N E W S F E E D S >>>

Caithness Field Club

Caithness Fern Survey

In the summer of 1972 the County Recorders were asked to submit their lists of ferns for an atlas of fern distribution in the British Isles which it was intended to publish early in 1973. Now Caithness had not had an active recorder for many years and J. Gunn had just taken on that task. He found that the fern records were quite inadequate for the purpose and that drastic action was needed. An army of helpers was recruited and they sallied forth with polythene bags at the ready, picking armfuls of anything that looked like a fern. The county was divided up according to the 10 km lines of the national grid of the Ordnance Survey map to give 26 squares or parts of squares. For instance the square ND16 (or 39/16) contains Thurso and district and is here shortened to 16 since that is not ambiguous within Caithness. The response to the request for assistance was very good and soon there was a deluge of bracken, cow-parsley leaves and bits of wild carrot, all mixed in with a most marvellous collection of very good ferns and fern-allies. The sorting out of all this material was greatly helped by the presence of Miss E. R. Bullard the Orkney Recorder, who is very well-versed in the study of ferns. Eventually large parcels were sent to the British Museum for formal identification, and a list emerged of the squares in which each species of fern occurs. These will appear as dots on the distribution maps placed in the appropriate square.

The principal helpers and collectors included V. Hewison, D. Savage,

S. Elder, Reay Youth Club, P. Batey, J. Sinclair J. McCulloch, D. Oliver,

K. Butler, Miss Stewart, Mrs. McLeod, Wick High School, A. Black,

P. Williamson, J. Erridge, Mrs. Chisholm, A. Stirling, A. Kenneth.

The list of ferns and fern-allies known by the end of 1973 is given below. The catalogue number (as given by Dandy) is given, followed by the Latin name and its author. Then the English name (as given in the recent catalogue of English names by Dony, Rob and Perring) is given. An attempt has been made to indicate the first observation of the plant in the county, although this aspect is much under-worked and there may well exist earlier records to be found. Finally a list is given of the squares in which the plant has been seen. Some of these are underlined and this indicates that this record is an old one and not recently seen.

That is not the end of the fern hunting. There is room for a lot more records of the ferns which are difficult to recognise and of plants such as Lycopodium which the hunters may not have been looking for. But the survey does show how the goodwill and interest does exist for such a venture, and how people with a limited knowledge of the subject can make a really valuable contribution to it.

1/1 Lycopodium selago L. Fir Clubmoss
D. Doull Killimster pre 1900
Sq, 93,94,95,96,02.03,05,06,13.14,15,24,27.

1/3 Lycopodium annotinum L. Interrupted Clubmoss
R. Dick Morven. Not refound nor a specimen known.

1/4 Lycopoclium clavatum Stags-horn Clubmoss
Listed by Trail (Top.Bot.)1899
Sq. -93,94,96,02,03,12,13y24.

1/5 Lycopodium alpinum L. Alpine Clubmoss
R. Dick Ben Dorrory
Sq.93,94, 02, O3

2/1 Selaginella selaginoides (L) Link Lesser Clubmoss
R. Dick Loch Wester, Keiss Links
Sq. 93,94,95,96.03.05,06,07,13,14,15,16,17,23,24,25,26.27,34,35.36.37.

3/1 Isoetes lacustris L. Quillwort
 Mr. Nicholson (with doubt) 1904
Sq. 04,05 in 1911 (95,03,14 subject to confirmation)

4/1,Equisetum hyomale L. Rough Horsetail
 M. McCallum-Webster Dunbeath 1955
 Sq. 13

4/5 Equisetum fluviatile L. Water Horsetail
J. Grant, Lysa Hill
Sq. 95,02,03,04,05,06,12,13,14,15,16,23,24,25,26,27, 34, 35, 36

4/6 Equisetum palustre L. Marsh Horsetail
R. Dick Thurso river

4/7 Equisetum sylvaticum L. Wood. Horsetail
Sq. 93,94,96,02,03,06312,13,14,15, l6,27

4/8 Equisetum pratense Ehrh. Shady Horsetail
R. Dick Thurso river; E.S. Marshall between Wick and Castletown.
Sq. 16 (the second record not refound)

4/9 Equisetum arvense L. Field Horsetail
R. Dick Thurso river

4/10 Equisetum telmateia Ehrh. Great Horsetail
Mrs. Chisholm Forss 1972
Sq. 06

5/1 Osmunda regalis L.
R. Dick a mile east of Dunnet Head lighthouse. Not recently seen. Also planted by Dick at Dorrery and Reay, but not refound there.

7/2 Hymenophyllum wilsonii Hook. Wilson's Filmy-fern
lst.rec. not known; ER Bullard & J. Gunn Smean 1974
Sq. 02

8/1 Pteridium aquilinum (L) Kuhn Bracken
Heddle herbarium specimen Dunnet Head, R. Dick Reay Hills
Sq. 93, 94, 95, 96, 01, 02. 03, 04, 05, 06, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 34, 36, 37

9/1 Cryptogramma crispa (L) R.Br. Parsley Fern
Marked in R. Brown’s catalogue sent to H.C. Watson 1872. Not refound.13/1 Blechnum spicant (L.) Roth Hard Fern R. Dick Reay Hills.
Sq. 93,94,95,96,01,02,03,04,05,06,12,13,14,15,16,17,23,24,25,27,34,36,37

14/1 Phyllitis scolopendrium (L.) Newm. Hart's-tongue
R. Dick; found at Dounreay 1972
Sq. 96,16,26

15/1 Asplenium adiantum-nigrum L. Black Spleenwort    
R. Dick Dirlot
Sq. 96,01,02,03,05,06,12,13,12,13,23,34.

15/4 Asplenium marinum L. Sea Spleenwort
Miss Geldart Stroma 1899
Sq, 06,07,12,13,17,27,36,37

15/5 Asplenium trichomanes L. Maiden Spleenwort
R. Dick Reay Hills
Sq. 95, 96,01,02,03,05,12,13,14, 34,35

15/6 Asplenium viride Huds. Green Spleenwort
CB Crampton Smean 1911. Not recently refound.
 Sq. 02

15/7 Aspienium ruta-muraria L. Wall-rue
R. Brown 1859
Sq. 12,13,14,23

18/1 Athyrium filix-femina (L.) Roth Lady-fern
Heddle herbarium specimen Dirlot,
Sq. 93,95,96,01,02,03,05,12,13,14,15, 16,17,23,24,25,27,34,37

19/1 Cystopteris fragilis (L.) Bernh. Brittle Bladder-fern
R. Brown 1859
Sq. 02,05,12,13,16,26

21/1 Dryopteris filix-mas (L.) Schott Male-fern
R. Dick Dirlot
Sq. 94,96,02,03,04,05,06,12,13,14,16,17, 23,24,25,27,34,35,37.

21/2 Dryopteris pseudo-mas (Wollaston) Holub Scaly Male-fern
lst record not known
Sq. 96,01,02,05,12,13,16,23,25,27,37 (probably much under-recorded)

21/3 Dryopteris abbreviata (DC.) Newm. Dwarf Male-fern
D. Oliver Yarrows area 1972. Needs refinding for exact location.
Sq. 34.

21/6 Dryopteris cartliusiana (Villar) H.P.Fuchs Narrow Buckler-fern
Listed by Adam. Origin unknown. Castletown Wood 1972.
Sq. 16

21/7 Dryopteris dilatata (Hoffm.) A. Gray Broad Buckler-fern
R. Dick Reay Hills
Sq. 93,94,95,96,01,02,03,04,05,06,12,13,14,16,17,23,24,25,27,34,35,36.

21/ Dryopteris assimilis S. Walker
F. J. Hanbury Summit of Morven 1887
Sq. 02

21/8 Dryopteris aemula (Ait.) Kuntze Hay-scented Buckler-fern
Listed by Adam.

22/2 Polystichium aculeatum (L.) Roth Hard Shield-fern
Listed by Trail. Origin unknown. 1899
Sq. 01,02,05,12,13,14,23,34

22/3 Polystichium lonchitis (L.) Roth Holly Fern
Peach Yarrows Hills 1860. Perhaps confused with Polystichium aculeatum var.
lonchitidoides in some locations. 
Genuinely found on Smean by E. R. Bullard and J. Gunn 1974.
Sq. 02

24/1 Thelypteris limbosperma (All.) H,P. Fuchs Lemon-scented Fern.
R. Dick Morven.
Sq 93,94,95,96,01,02,03,04,05,12,13,23

24/3 Thielypteris phegopteris (L.) Slosson Beech Fern
R. Dick Morven
Sq. 93,94,02,05, 12,13

24/4 Gymnocarpium dryopteris (L.) Newm. Oak Fern
R. Dick Reay Hills
Sq. 93,94,02,05,12, 13,14,15,25.

4/5 Gyinnocarpium robertianum (Hoffm.) Newm. Limestone Fern
R. Dick Morven Not refound nor a specimen known.

25/1 Polypodium vulgare L. emend. Shivas. Polypody.
R. Dick Reay Hills.                                        
Sq. 93,95,96,01,02,03,05,06,12,13,14,17,23,24,25,27,34,35,36,37.

25/1 Polypoclium interjectum. Shivas.
Miss Stewart Stirkoke Wood 1972.
Sq. 12,13,16,34,35.

25/1 Polypodium vulgatum x interjectum
Miss E. R. Bullard 1974.
Sq. 96.

28/1 Botrychium lunaria (L.) Sw. Moonwort
Listed by Trail 1899.
Sq. 94,96,02,04,06,12,13,25,27,37.

29/1 Ophioglossum vulgatum L. Addert’s-tongue.

BSBI meeting 1972 Dunnet Head
Sq. 17.

Published October 1974