Monday, 9 January 2006

Spiny Leaved Blue Lobed Leaves

M. aculeata
There are possibly four species in this category that closely resemble the variations of M. horridula except there have divided leaves. THIS is M aculeata. It is found in the western Himalayas. There is a similar species - M. neglecta - found even farther west into far western Pakistan and perhaps even into Afghanistan - this however not well known or seen recently and may well be just a variation on M. aculeata. The foliage on this species tends to be a more glaucous/grey green. The flowers can be a good sky blue but are often mauve or a shot silk blue/mauve.
M. aculeata
The anthers are yellow and all but the flowers are covered with coarse spines.These spines can be straw coloured as well as shades of purple. It has recently been recollected and there are many images taken in the wild. Like many species it tends to become more scapose with altitude. A lovely image by Martin Walsh.
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M. neglecta
This species was described by Sir George Taylor in his monograph in 1934. This was uniquely found west of the Indus river in Chitral on the Kafiristan border. It was only a partial specimen and only immature seed capsules were present and no details of height or location. The flowers are all borne on basal scapes which Taylor could find in no herbarium specimens of M. aculeata. Taylor himself was not happy with this as a criterion (wisely since a number of species become scapose at higher altitudes). He also noted it's geographical isolation from all other Meconopsis and noted a much shorter style than in any specimens he had seen of M. aculeata. Not an easy area to re collect from but that is what is needed.
M. speciosa
A wonderful image of this species as a dwarfed plant growing in a crevice at high altitude. The glossy dark green leaves are in perfect proportion to a large and beautiful flower.
M. speciosa
A very desirable plant from the eastern end of the Himalayas and especially China. It is a high altitude plant and although tried in cultivation and seed is occasionally available it is very difficult even if the seed germinates. The soft blue flowers are large and contrast wonderfully with the yellow anthers. The foliage is very divided into lobes and appears always to be a deep almost greasy green colour which adds to its attractiveness. It is a widespread plant but not particularly common. Like all its relatives it is monocarpic though no doubt at altitude it will take some years to flower.
The plant is always at the level of the screes and not in the more grassy vegetation lower down. This might be possible to grow in places like northern Norway and maybe in Alaska - possibly a part of the USA where difficult species are worth trying.
Not really sure of this plant, it might be M. pseudohorridula (see under spiny leaved unlobed), might be a hybrid (though this has not been described) between M. prattii or somesuch - the two species occur on the same mountainside- or maybe it is a variation of the species. I have been sent a number of images like this. At a guess I would say it is a variation on M. racemosa or M. prattii.