Small cow-wheat (Melampyrum sylvaticum) grows on at least 2 sites on Atholl Estates. This is pretty good going as it's only found in 18 sites in the whole of Britain, most of which are in Scotland. Now is the perfect time to see it as it's flowering, and relatively easy to distinguish from its common cousin - common cow-wheat (Melampyrum pratense). It likes to grow in areas that are somewhat damp and shady, and also steals some nutrients from other nearby plants - it is a hemi-parasite. Its seeds are dispersed by ants, in fact, ants assisted with some conservation work here to spread out the range of one patch of cow-wheat, by taking the seeds further than they had been put by humans.
|Removing bracken from a small cow-wheat site|
|Small cow-wheat flower|
One of our small cow-wheat sites is very easy to visit up Glen Tilt, and we hope to have some interpretation on site soon.
Small cow-wheat is one of the species involved with the Cairngorms Rare Plant project, which aims to deliver urgently needed action for four threatened plants of high conservation importance in the Cairngorms National Park. www.cairngormsrareplants.org.uk/