Photographer : Margaret Thorne
( Central Nepal to east Tibet ). Another beautiful big blue poppy. On account of the leaf structure and basal flowering it is put in with M. quintuplinervia and M. punicea. It is however very similar to M. grandis. Like M. grandis it has much larger seeds than M. betonicifolia. In flower it is distinguished from M. grandis by flowering from basal scapes, having blue filaments to the anthers and often a more hairy flowering stalk. There are however published pictures of M. grandis (identification based on the existence of leaves on the flowering stems) that have blue filaments so this may not always be a reliable characteristic. It is a very variable plant. Some are small (15 – 20 cms.) with poor small flowers of a dirty blue or purple and usually at high altitude while others can be of a beautiful sky blue with large flowers on large plants. Plants in the wild can clearly be long lived and polycarpic as well as being almost certainly monocarpic.
Treat like M. betonicifolia. Thirty years ago in Scotland there was a monocarpic form which was invariably an exquisite sky blue but monocarpic. It usually set seed well but eventually died out. Since then this species has been grown from new importations of wild seed some of which are perennial and of quite good colour and others rather poorer or monocarpic.