Meconopsis Visual Reference Guide. Includes Photos, Taxonomy And Cultivation Information.
Sunday, 26 April 2015
I have been waiting for my first Meconopsis punicea to flower - buds just opening - when my eldest daughter in Wick, Caithness sent me this image of Lingholm already in flower! Caithness in the very far north of Scotland can have warmer weather than one might imagine due to the proximity of the North Atlantic drift passing across the top of the mainland and then coming north - south down the North Sea.
Meconopsis punicea. My absolute favorite Meconopsis. Many years ago when I wrote my book on Meconopsis I was rather horrified that the publisher had used this species as the jacket cover. I felt this was inappropriate for a book on 'BLUE POPPIES.' Just why this wonderful species has red flowers will almost certainly be related to what originally pollinated it. The bottom image here shows the problem since it is not clear how insects would be guided to pollinate it. Red tubular flowers in some parts of the world are pollinated by humming birds and these are often long tubular flowers that the long tongues of humming birds can reach and other insects pollinators cannot. I do have to add that on really hot days M. punicea does open up a little and bees and the like could pollinate it. It is possible that blue Meconopsis evolved from red ones.
The top image is of a plant in the garden of Carol and Hugh who live just up the road. The buds on this plant are twice the size of any plant of this species I have ever seen. I cannot wait to see it flower! I might add that Carol is very green fingered and she has produced big surpluses of this species which we have been able to give back to various gardens open to the public such as Branklyn in Perth. The main website gives information on growing this plant on from seed.
Meconopsis prainiana and also M. prattii. These are the spiny blue poppies related to Meconopsis horridula. Across the whole Himalayan range there must be great variation. They can be perfect azure blue through light blue in one direction and into muddy shades of purple in the other. There are white forms in cultivation too and even suggestions of yellow forms. What is in the seed exchanges is pretty variable and may not always turn out to be a good clear colour form. They are easy from seed and grow on quickly and usually they will flower as a biennial but can take an extra year especially in thin dry soils. With more than one plant they should set plenty of seed even in a poor year. Harvesting the seeds might best be done with gloves since the spines are strong and almost unpleasant to the touch. This plant again should grow anywhere in the U.K., even in hot dry climates, as long as the seedlings are grown with care in more moist controlled situations.
Meconopsis paniculata in wild. This is an image by David and Margaret Thorne. I have taken images today in the garden but cannot load them! What follows is again just for gardeners! This species is one of the rosette forming ones that look lovely in winter and then send up a flowering spike after 2 or 3 years and die. With more than one plant they will set huge amounts of seed. It was always thought of as a yellow flowered species but recently pink and red forms have been described. It was recognised as a specific species by a very subtle feature of the leaf hairs. I suspect again much of what is in the seed exchanges is muddled. If offered seed just accept it will form a nice winter rosette and then a final tall flowering spike.