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History of the Island of Mull
Chapter V - Flora


Among the Islands adjoining Mull plant life is largely the same, nothwithstanding the fact that these isles have been permanently separated throughout a succession of geological periods. It would be plausible to assume that every isle would have a varied flora peculiar to itself. Again, varied causes might lead to a wide distribution of plants. The wind, the waves, and the birds are active agents in this field. Nor should it be overlooked that man has been a very great and untiring factor, not only after an intelligent manner, but also unconsciously in that seeds adhere to packages imported from other districts. The production of plants depends on the nature of the soil, climate and sunshine. The same land area will multiply certain species, while other varieties will become rare. Plants growing luxuriously on the low level lands will gradually disappear along the mountain reaches. Very many have their habitat close to lochs, rivers, and the margins bordering the sea.

The Western Isles were once famous for their forests. Even the bogs, and other deposits, still contain remains of the old woods. Mull was specially famous for her trees. When Dean Monro travelled through the Hebrides he found most of the islands abounding in trees. The causes of the great denudation of the forests can be easily traced through the dismal history of the times which have elapsed. On the eastern and northeastern coasts of Mull, there are several spots still remaining, containing valuable timber. The isle should still be sheltered by forty thousand acres of woodland, and that without interfering with tillage or grazing. The trees most likely to thrive are those found growing spontaneously on the island. The trees indigenous to the Hebrides, and most of which were formerly in Mull, are the oak, ash, elm, beech, plane, chestnut, walnut, horse chestnut, lime, maple, Scotch fir, larch, spruce, fir, silver fir, balsam fir* pinaster, birch, black poplar, abele, aspen, alder, roan, willow, laburnum and yew.

In Mull the soil is generally light, thin and gravelly, being the decomposition of volcanic matter,—the most fertile coming from the granite. The geological construction of Mull is chiefly adapted to grazing. Green crops and grasses may be raised to advantage. While the various grasses afford pasture for domestic animals, yet there are many noxious weeds that prove fatal to horses and cattle.

The following list of Mull plants, made by Professor Robert C. McLean, is given without any change save I have noted the habitat of such plants as are not common. Many plants are quite rare, and seldom met with elsewhere.

The following list of plants is compiled from the records given for vice-county 103 (Mull and its smaller dependencies) —(See H. C. Watson: Cyble Britannica)—in Traill’s “Topographical Botany of Scotland” published with a “Continuation” and a “Supplement” in the Annals of Scottish Natural History, from 1898 onwards; together with some additional plants mentioned in Arthur Bennett’s “Additional Records of Scottish Plants” in “The Scottish Naturalist” vol. 8, 1886 and onwards. It comprises every authenticated species and variety for the islands, corrected up to the year 1912, so that any discovery not here included may be taken as being in all probability an addition to the flora.

Any such discovery should be notified for record purposes, and the author will be happy to receive any such notifications at University College, Cardiff.

The nomenclature here employed is that of the London Catalogue of British Plants, tenth edition, and the order is that of Bentham and Hooker, most usual in British Floras.









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