Since land use on the peninsula is not particularly intensive, being generally used for sheep and cattle grazing and for commercial forestry, a wide variety of higher and lower plant life is to be found here - a condition assisted by the wide variety of habitats, ranging from heath, moorland and bog through woodland and scrub to meadow, parkland and hedgerow and even a few areas of saltmarsh and shingle.
Dampness and shade ensure a good variety of liverworts, mosses and ferns while funghi and lichens are also well represented. The sea lochs and estuary contain a large number of seaweeds and other plants. Flowering plants, including sedges, rushes and grasses, as well as many trees, tend to dominate the landscape. Commercial plantations, which occupy large areas of land, are almost all composed of conifers such as Sitka spruce, Lodgepole pine and Japanese or hybrid larch, with small numbers of others such as silver firs and Scots pine.
Native trees and shrubs include oak, ash, willow, birch, Rowan, wych elm, alder, hazel, hawthorn, blackthorn, bird cherry, gean, crab apple and elderberry. Many trees, some, like yew, perhaps native to the area, have long been planted by people. The famous yew tree avenue at Rosneath, originally linking the (now gone) Clachan House to Rosneath church is a prime example. Some of the larger gardens and policies boast fine specimen trees, often conifers such as Sequoia (Wellintonia) pines and cedars. Some are probably not native to the area but have been widely used, for example beech, sycamore, horse chestnut and lime. Rhododendron has become a scourge, rampaging out of control. Palm trees occur, but tend to suffer and die in the occasional very hard winter.
It is not practicable to give an exhaustive listing of flowering plants, but on the moors several species of heather, along with gorse and broom, give colour to the landscape. On road side verges, stitchwort, wild hyacinth and comfrey are to the fore in spring. By the shore, sea radish, sea campion thrift and scurvy grass all make their contribution.
The Linn Botanic Gardens at Cove, which are open to the public all year round, contain extensive collections of other temperate plants. The gardens of Kilarden near Roseneath are open one afternoon every year as part of the Scotland Garden Scheme.
1.©Chloe & Mark Nightingale http://www.flickr.com/photos/spoiltcat/2809308149/in/photostream/
2.© Copyright George Rankin www.geograph.org.uk/photo/444526