Hierochloe odorata   Holy-grass RR DDD N

Hierochloe odorata

On our way back from a holiday in Arran three of us (amateur field botanists) took the long route south down the coast to Stranraer. We stopped first at the famous Ballantrae shingle spit to search for Mertensia maritima (Oyster Plant) which we found. Then we travelled east searching for the South Dumfries Southwick nature reserve. Eventually we found the reserve through which you walk to the salt-marsh type foreshore.

We had precise directions but the access was barred by deep water filled gullies too wide to jump. We moved back towards the land where a fence separated the scrub from the shore. Friend David went first, carefully using the lower fence wire like a trapeze artist to cross the water. He lived, so we followed. We quickly found the holy grass but an unholy breeze sprang up making photography vitrtually impossible. Grasses are tricky anyway because it is so difficult to separate grass flower head from the usually similar coloured background. These plants were waving happily back and forth and with the low light levels a fast shutter speed was impossible.

This single rubbishy photo is therefore the only record I have of this life-threatening expedition to see yet another totally unspectacular British native rarity.

It could be anything couldn't it?

There are very few sites for H. odorata but the largest concentration of sites is on the Dumfries coast and Orkney with a few in Scotland and south Uist. There is none in England or Wales but recently a single site in northern Ireland has been discovered.

Foreshore, Southwick Nature Reserve, Dumfries, Scotland 19th May 2003

Added on January 27th 2005, updated April 8th 2009, updated 7th April 2010

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