Species of the Month - August 2011

Grass of Parnassus

Parnassia palustris

This plant of damp grassland is at its best in August and is easy to recognise as the flower structure is unique.  The stalked golden glands attract insects which sit on the ovary (the pinkish object in the middle which will develop into the fruit) to get at the nectar.  The flower's five stamens ripen in turn, the ripe one lying on top of the ovary so that an insect which lands there will pick up pollen.  When the last stamen has ripened and moved away from the ovary, the stigmas are exposed to receive pollen from insects which have previously sat on ovaries with stamens.

The leaves are heart-shaped, mostly from the base on long stalks, with a single unstalked leaf on each flowering stem.

Parnassia palustris   Parnassia palustris


Parnassia palustris   Parnassia palustris

The presence of this plant suggests the ground is flushed with moderately alkaline water and has not been subject to over-grazing.  It is worth looking for other interesting species wherever it occurs.

Please send in your sightings using the form below.

Date of sighting 
Grid reference 
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details 


By filling in this form you agree that the information contained in this form may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically for environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with the LNHG data access policy.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
G Biological Records Manager

Sightings so far

On 29 July Gela saw 50 or more in a flower-filled meadow on the Isle of Sanday off Canna.

On 2 Aug Donald Hutchison saw about 3 plants in bud beside the cycle track in Appin.

On 18 Aug they were frequent by the path to the Cruachan Dam from altitude 250 m upwards.

Also on 18 Aug Marion found lots on Eileach an Naoimh.

22 Aug, plentiful on Puilladobhrain coast, Seil.

25 Aug, saw several beside the cycle track between Inverfolla and Achnacone.

1 Sep, Kerry found some by Loch Angus in Angus' Garden, Glen Lonan.

27 Sep, several still in flower during the lnhg midweek walk in Gleann Salach.

Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here is the list of species we've had so far:

Jul 2011 - Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Jun 2011 - 7-spot Ladybird
May 2011 - Green Hairstreak
Apr 2011 - Townhall Clock

Mar 2011 - Frogspawn

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All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated