In search of Pyramidal bugle (Ajuga pyramidalis) in the Burren, Co Clare, May 2023
After two years of searching Poulsallagh without any luck for the rare and elusive plant that is Pyramidal bugle, finally I have seen this beautiful native Irish plant.
I received a message from local ecologist Paul Murphy that he spotted it in flower at the Poulsallagh area of the Burren. I headed over yesterday and was thrilled to find it.
A close up investigation with a hand lens is a must if you are lucky enough to find this small but beautiful species. Tiny three lower lips of the deep bluish-purple flowers stretch out beyond the leaves. The whole plant is very hairy and the uppermost leaves are purple tinged. The plant tapers slightly towards the top. Overall it is a delightfully pretty plant.
Ajuga pyramidalis is a scarce plant classed as vulnerable in the Irish Red Data List of Vascular Plants 2016. The Burren and the Aran Islands are the stronghold for this plant in Ireland. It is found in north-west Scotland and has a scattered distribution in Europe.
Pyramidal bugle does not always produce flowers and when it does they can be seen between May to July. These beautiful flowers are vulnerable to grazing animals.
The surrounding area where I encountered this plant is being impacted negatively by human trampling leaving me with concern for the survival of this rare beauty at this location.
I am heading over to the Aran islands at the weekend in search of Ajuga pyramidalis, the place where this plant was first discovered by the naturalist, Alexander Moore in 1854, wish me luck!