Rare plant takes a lichen to the Borders

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THE Borders boasts four of the 11 Scottish sites which have been discovered to be home to a rare species of lichen.

The bird-perch gristle lichen, or Ramalina polymorpha, will be the subject of a special event being staged by Plantlife Scotland near Ancrum on Saturday, when people are invited to come and examine this rare example of our flora and find out more about it.

Bird-perch gristle lichen is a very distinctive coastal lichen, looking something like the sea ivory lichen.

It is rare in Britain, with only 11 known locations in Scotland, but it it has been found on four sites in the Borders and at a further three in East Lothian.

Davie Black of Plantlife Scotland said: “This is normally a plant found by the coast, but the unusual thing about the Borders is that it is found inland, quite a distance from the sea.

“Plantlife would like to keep an eye on these sites and we are looking for people who would be interested in coming along, finding out more about it, and maybe help us ensure that this plant stays around in the area.”

He explained: “It’s called the bird-perch gristle lichen due to it growing on rocks near bird droppings, where the birds perch. Making sure that the rocky outcrops remain open enough for birds to perch will help this rare plant to survive and thrive.”

Supported by Scottish Natural Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, this Plantlife Scotland workshop will help participants identify the lichen and tell them how to record it, to help make sure it survives in south-east Scotland.

Technical advice will be on hand, provided by Brian and Sandy Coppins, well-known local lichen experts, and, if you are interested in coming along, contact Davie Black at the Plantlife Scotland office for more details – 01786 469778 or email scotland@plantlife.org.uk