Thursday, 28 August 2014

Sea Kale (Crambe maritima): Third for Shetland 24/08/2014

On Sunday I was hunting around a beach at Seafield, Lerwick with my Granny looking for birds and the odd bit of seaside life.
One strange thing I came across though was what looked like a Cabbage plant, but not like the usually cabbage plants because this one was sea green, I shouted my Granny over and we didn't have much idea but she suggested "Sea Kale", I had no idea what it was or what a Sea Kale was and so all I could do was say possibly and that was the end of that.

But after the day had ended and I was looking online, I came across a photo of Sea Kale that had been posted by Mike Pennington and this represented the second record for Shetland!!! (Found by Babara Priest on Unst).
Now this plant looked very much like my one, but mine a bit more bold. I thought to myself, could this be the same specie? I left a comment saying that I had found one that looked like Sea Kale or a similar specie and then I left it at that for the time being.
One thing that came to mind was that I would need a photo to confirm if it WAS a Sea Kale, one problem, I wouldn't be in the Mainland for the next two weeks and who knows what could happen to the plant in that time.
I decided that I needed someone to help with this so I sent Paula Moss a message asking if she could have a look the next time she was in Lerwick (which was the 26th!) and she said she would!
So the 26th came and halfway through the day I got a text saying that she'd found it and along with that text came a photo, it was my plant! that night Paula sent it to me online and I stuck it on the same status as the Sea Kale and I waited for a confirmation.
On the 27th I was in Unst so I was out of phone signal for most of the day but on the next morning (the 28th) I got a text from Paul Harvey asking me where my Kale-like plant was, I gave Paul the location and around mid afternoon I got a text from him saying-

"Well done Logan that's only the third record of sea kale for Shetland".

Yes!! my suspicions were right! I had found the third and only Sea Kale plant to be record in the Shetland Isles! I have to say it was a really lucky find! (and my rarest find yet!).

Afterwards I checked online and I'd gotten a reply to my Sea Kale photo from Mike Pennington.

"Well done, Logan. It is another Sea Kale. Paul Harvey of the Shetland BRC and Walter Scott, THE Shetland Botanist, went to see it this afternoon. It was a new Shetland plant for Walter!"

To think that my find was good enough to visited by probably the greatest Shetland Botanist! and it was his first one on Shetland!

The previous record of Sea Kale was found in Cunningsburgh in roughly 1991 by T.Angus, luckily it was photographed by the finder before it was turned into a stump by grazing sheep.
It is a perennial species (meaning that it leaves for over two years) but it did not grow back and this was the last record of the species until the past week.
Though since I've brought this up a few of my family members from Yell have told me that many, many  years ago (80 years even 100) "the Links" of Vatsetter in Yell used to be covered in the stuff but it disappeared and no-one alive today has seen those plants there and now only the stories from the past are passed down.

I would just like to thank Paula for taking the time to look for and photograph the Sea Kale which was crucial in hopefully getting a positive ID and for the confirmation by Paul Harvey and Mike Pennington.

Finally here is the plant, yes it is just a big piles of leaves but a very rare pile of leaves in these parts!

(Photo by Paula Moss)

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