Species of the Month - August 2011
Grass of Parnassus
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.
are heart-shaped, mostly from the base on long stalks, with a single
unstalked leaf on each flowering stem.
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.
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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.