Sunday, 20 March 2005

Meconopsis ludlowii - Photos In The Garden

Meconopsis ludlowii - Photos In The Wild

Meconopsis ludlowii


This species was discovered by Ludlow & Sherriff on the Orka La in Bhutan on 10th July 1934 (L& S642), who also recorded it on the Milakatong La four days later and near Lap (L& S728) on 28th July 1934. Seed was collected from both passes in October 1934 (L&S 1080 & 1095).  The specimens were identified initially as M. lyrata and then by George Taylor as M. lancifolia var concinna (a rather different Chinese species), and it was called this in ‘A Quest of Flowers’.

The photos were taken by Margaret and David Thorne in Arunachal Pradesh last Summer. Clearly a very lovely dwarf plant with deep blue stamens and what looks like a yellow stigma but maybe the stigma is coloured and it is covered with yellow pollen. This is some ways a mysterious plant and found by earlier European explorers  but was first properly recorded  by the great team of Ludlow and Sherriff as Meconopsis lyrata on the ORKA LA on 10th June 1934 and also later on the MILAKATONG LA and elsewhere. Seed was collected as Meconopsis lancifolia concinna. It is not this either!

Currently Dr. Grey-Wilson is going to describe it as a new species called Meconopsis ludlowii – a fitting tribute to a great plantsman.


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Saturday, 19 March 2005

Meconopsis zangnanensis - Photos In The Garden

Meconopsis zangnanensis - Photos In The Wild

Meconopsis zanganensis


From Cuona at 4000 m. in Tibet which is east of Bhutan towards the Indian border. A Chinese described species similar to, but smaller than M. simplicifolia. It is described as perennial with basal leaves and dead petioles from previous years. The leaves are spathulate and smooth. The 4 petalled sky blue flowers with yellow anthers are solitary on the ends of basal scapes. See Quart. Bull. Alpine Garden Soc. Vol 48, 236 – 40 in an article by Stephen Haw (black and white drawing).


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Friday, 18 March 2005

Meconopsis wumungensis - Photos In The Garden

Meconopsis wumungensis - Photos In The Wild

A lovely colour image of this new Chinese species on the Wu Meng Shan about 80 kms north of Kunming. The exact affinity of this plant to other Meconopsis is not clear: Haw in AGS Bulletin 48 part 3 suggests M. delavayi or M. lyrata, Although not clear in this image there are two flowers (1 plus a bud) on a single scape. It was described as annual - which is highly unlikely but may be monocarpic, both of which are not typical of M. delavayi. M. lyrata at this stage seems more likely. Pam Eveleigh.

Meconopsis wumungensis

Photographer : Pam Eveleigh


Described by Chinese authorities and only known from Mt. Wumung (80 kms. From Kunming) in Yunnan at 3,600 metres. It is a small plant about 10cms tall with all basal leaves which are smooth with more or less deeply cut lobes. The flowers at 5-6 cms are large for the size of the plant and are borne singly on basal scapes, some plants have 2 or 3 flowers on separate stems. It is described as an annual which seems pretty unlikely as it flowers in June and it is described from a single plant and has not been seen in fruit. See Quart. Bull. Alpine Garden Soc. Vol 48, 236 – 40 in an article by Stephen Haw (black and white drawing). This plant was seen and photographed by a group of western plant hunters in 2009.


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Thursday, 17 March 2005

Meconopsis wilsonii - Photos In The Garden

Characteristic foliage of this subspecies (wilsonii) of M. wilsonii. These images were taken in the wonderful gardens of the Cox family at Glendoick, Perthshire. Taylor placed this is M. napaulensis, but then he also placed M. wallichii in the same species. This plant is close to some forms of M. wallichii. Detail of the leaf lobing. Much less divided than M. wallichii. There are two quite different forms of wallichii, three sub species of M. wilsonii (wilsonii, australis and orientalis). The brilliant plant (which is actually in cultivation) found by Prof. David Rankin and others north of Kunming in Yunnan BUT IT IS THE NEWLY NAMED M.Wilsonii orientalis.
Like the others in this group of eastern evergreen monocarpics, they do not flower in the UK until early July. This is just opening the first bud in Perthshire on the 25th June. This plant shows the stigma to be green. This is M.w. wilsonii. Growing in the garden of Prof. and Mrs Rankin south of Edinburgh. These plants were grown from garden seed supplied by Jamie Taggart. He collected this seed from N.E. Yunnan. This has now been named by Professor Rankin as Meconopsis wilsonii ssp orientalis - a new subspecies.
M. wilsonii ssp orientalis A beautiful narrow raceme of lovely flowers with many open at once - clearly a plant of some class. It has already been grown in two Scottish gardens and so may not be unduly difficult. The main risk will be hybridisation - most likely with M. wallichii or other sub species of M. wilsonii and those used for seed collection will need to be grown in isolation. Will probaly be sterile with M. napaulensis hybrids. M.w. orientalis If this is compared to the first 3 images on these pages taken in Peter Cox's garden thenit is clear that one is looking at different subspecies.
There are currently 4 species in this subgroup of blue/white/purple evergreen monocarpics. Two forms (perhaps subspecies) of M. wallichii, one with long flower pedicels and pale blue or white flowers and the other more squat with mauve flowers much closer to this plant illustrated. M. violaceae - not seen for many years from upper Burma and perhaps just into Tibet and the newly described M. wilsonii from China which now has three sub species described. Both the number and shape of the leaf lobing on stem leaves and basal leaves will be critical in identifying this sub species and separating from species like M. wallichii or M violaceae.
Basal leaves important for identification of species and subspecies in this group of 4.

Meconopsis wilsonii - Photos In The Wild

A superb image of a plant photographed in the Wu Meng Shan in NE Yunnan. This was photographed and subsequently named by DAVID RANKIN. He has named this as a new sub species of M. wilsonii as M.w. orientalis. This is clearly going to be a superb garden plant but will need to be grown in isolation from others in this group of blue/purple monocarpic species to prevent hybridisation. Characteristic golden hairs and violet style and stigma of this beautiful plant. David Rankin.
Detail of immature leaf and leaf hairs. The very characteristic opposite or sub-opposite leaf lobes are well shown. David Rankin. A very distintive set of plants about to come into flower. The characteristic very narrow flowering raceme with very short pedicels is well shown. Has rather a nice Arisaema too! David Rankin.
Wu Zhikun. This makes a number of points. The webmaster met Xiao at a meeting at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh with Prof. Rankin. We are very fortunate to have colleagues like this from China who so happily share their wonderful flora with us and make us so welcome in their country. It also is a good habitat shot showing foreground and background! David Rankin. This shows the characteristic violet flowers with golden anthers. The leaves and seed pods have a delicate golden hairs. David Rankin.

Meconopsis wilsonii


Originally collected by Wilson in west Sichuan as M. napaulensis and north of Wolong. An evergreen monocarpic species The plant is dainty with well-cut ferny leaves with short squat fruits (this is subsp. wilsonii). A second subsp. australis occurs in NW Yunnan and Burma and was first collected by Forrest. This is similar but with coarser leaves. Curtis Botanical Magazine (2002) 23,176. Professor David Rankin has descibed a new sub species from NE Yunnan.

M. violaceae is clearly very close to M wilsoniicomplex and also to the purple form of M. wallichii and these form a sub group of blue / purple monocarpic evergreens.

The images of M. wilsonii were taken at Glendoick of plants grown by Peter Cox.

David Rankin is publishing an account of the species featured in the images currently shown under wild images of M. wilsonii as M. wilsonii orientalis. I will add the reference as soon as I have obtained it.


This has been grown and successfully flowered near Edinburgh by Professor Rankin and very beautiful it is too. Will probably take 3 years to fower from seed (though the related M. wallichii nearly always takes two years. Probably fairly straight forward in cool northern areas but many of these evergreen monocarpic species of all colours can be grown in hotter and drier areas since they are monocarpic and need to be renewed from seed. Seed stored cool (it will need harvesting later than many Meconopsis since like M. wallichii it is late flowering) and then sown in January and given a little bottom heat after a month. Heat is not essential since they germinate as soon as spring starts to warm up. They need pricking on when two leaves have formed beyond the seed leaves into a rich moist compost and then potting into small plastic pots before planting out preferably by the end of August where the are to flower. They can be over wintered in the pots and planted out mid March when back in growth.

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Wednesday, 16 March 2005

Meconopsis wallichii - Photos In The Garden

White form. Pale blue with fern like foliage.
Flowers late June / July. Seedlings mid winter - the middle rosette is M. wallichii, quite distinctive from the rest which are all M. napaulensis (Hort).
Flowering at the RBG Edinburgh in 2010. The flower colour is similar in M. wilsonii ssps as well as M. violaceae. The leaf lobing separates but this needs clarilfying. This is the more compact mauve flowered form of M. wallichii (see also the longer petioled and pale blue type) Both of these have been in cultivation for many years. Taylor lumped this in with M. napaulensis - (wrongly) It is sterile if crossed with that in the garden hybrid form.

The leaf lobing may well be critical in separating this from M. wilsonii (a newly described species by C. Grey- Wilson - which cv.) This last species is variable and has already been split into 2 or 3. As there are two quite distinct types of M. wallichii as well as the elusive M. violaceae, all of these need a proper re-assessment and a new type of key.

Meconopsis wallichii - Photos In The Wild

Meconopsis wallichi


Another evergreen monocarpic with blue, white or purple coloured flowers. Taylor lumped this into M. napaulensis. This was never sensible since M. wallichii and M. napaulensis are not fertile when crossed. It can be a tall plant 2 metres high when the flower spike is fully elongated. There have been two quite distinct plants in cultivation. 40 years ago there was a plant with duck egg blue or white flowers with large spaces between the flowering scapes and long flowering stems. The leaves were finely divided and presented a delicate fern like appearance. The other plant is much more robust, again with finely divided leaves which look much more solid than the other variety. The whole plan, though large is, much more compact and a good plant can be a solid mass of purple flowers. The colour varies since many are rather a muddy purple but really good rich purples do occur. It is I suppose conceivable that two different species are involved. Ref. Curtis Botanical Magazine (2002) 23,176. The mauve flowered evergreen monocarpic plants in Sichuan and Yunnan were put into M. napaulensis by Taylor. He had put what we now call M. wallichii into M. napaulensis (This is clearly inappropriate since they are sterile when crossed). One can see, given M. wallichii was in with M. napaulensis, why he thought these Chinese mauve coloured evergreen were variations. If you look at the images under M. wilsonii growing in Glendoick gardens it even seems reasonable. It is now clear however that the mauve evergreen species are a separate late flowering group but they need more study particularly with regard to the new plants recently found in NE Yunnan.


Easy from seed and grows quickly to a good sized plant and once grown are fairly distinct (more fern like) in both early seedling growth and as they mature compared to M. napaulensis (Hort) and very many will flower in the second year if well grown. They flower nearly a month after most other monocarpic evergreens.

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Tuesday, 15 March 2005

Meconopsis violacea - Photos In The Garden

Meconopsis violacea - Photos In The Wild

Meconopsis violacea

Photographer : David Rankin


An evergreen monocarpic related to M. napaulensis or perhaps more appropriately M wallichii with golden hairs. It is distinguished from the rest of the group by the very regular lobing to the leaf throughout the length. It has violet flowers on a tall flowering scape and violet filaments with bright orange stamens. It comes from Northern Burma in a region that may be currently inaccessible but it was described as being sparing over the border in S.E. Tibet. New pictures recently taken in NE Yunnan on the Wu Meng Shan were at first thought to be this species but it has become clear that a new sub species of Meconopsis wilsoni is involved.

March 2010. The latest diagnosis of this set of plants is not M. violaceae (though that is clearly closely related) but another subspecies of M. wilsoni. The suggested name is M. wilsoni spp orientalis and this is being formally published I will leave this images here but cross reference it to the M. wilsonii page.

Note the image to the left is Meconopsis wilsonii orientalis but I shall leave it there to remind us how nice it would be to have the very similar M.violaceae in cultivation again.


This was commonly cultivated before the second world war from a Kingdom-Ward introduction in 1926. It was clearly relatively easy to cultivate and a very desirable plant both in it's neatness and flower colour. Probably flowered mainly in its third year and apparently over-wintered well. It produced a spontaneous hybrid with M. betonicifolia at Glendoick in what it now Tayside, East Scotland that was perennial and named M.x Coxiana after the great Rhododendron enthusiast and proprietor of Glendoick - Euan Cox. It has not been in cultivation for many years, perhaps because it hybridised with other evergreen monocarpics. If seed is obtained it would need standard growing like M. napaulensis (Hort) but if we are to keep any of these closely related monocarpics true, an altruistic soul will have to grow them in isolation and in a small garden that may mean excluding these other species. If by a miracle seed can be obtained it will need growing in strict isolation from any other monocarpic species or it will rapidly be lost again. From the altitude that these plants were found they would probably be as easy to grow as most monocarpic evergreen Mecs (though maybe at least cover some with a glass pane in winter). With a compact highly floriferous flowering spike they are clearly highly desirable if ever Chinese or Burmese seed becomes available.

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Monday, 14 March 2005

Meconopsis venusta - Photos In The Garden

Meconopsis venusta - Photos In The Wild

Meconopsis venusta


Purple flowered relative of M. horridula, (similar species M. pseudovenusta, impedita, lancifolia) very similar to M. pseudovenusta but has more lobed leaves and long thin seed capsules.


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Sunday, 13 March 2005

Meconopsis torquata - Photos In The Garden

Meconopsis torquata - Photos In The Wild

Tibetan uplands near Llasa. This species is monocarpic but probably takes a minimum of three or fours years to flower in this rather bleak and hostile environment. A plant familiar to both Ludlow and Sherriff during their time in Llasa during the second world war. Has been flowered by General Murray-Lyon but would be very difficult.The flowers are blue and the plant is quite closely related to M. discigera. Margaret Thorne. M. torquata is one of five species in a separate sub- genera Discogyne. They are all easily distinguished when in fruit by a disc between the ovary and the style and stigma. A unique feature of this species is spines on the backs of the petals which can be seen in this close-up of a seed pod. (The brown is the dead blue petal and the remains of the spines can still be seen) This species also differs from the other 4 in the sub genus by having almost no style with the stigma immediately above the disc. The disc can be seen above the spiny seed pod and the ridged brown 'bump' above is the styleless stigma. A really valuable image from Margaret Thorne.

Meconopsis torquata

Photographer : Margaret Thorne


( One of five species in section Discogyne characterised by having a disk above the ovary from which the style and stigma protrude – other 4 species are M. tibetica, M. torquata, M. simikotensis and M. pinnatifolia ). From central Tibet near Lhasa. Monocarpic. Unlobed leaves and narrow racemes of blue flowers with bristles on the outside of the flowers. Good black and white illustration in ‘A Quest of Flowers’ by H.R. Fletcher (Edinburgh Press 1975).

There is a very good, well illustrated, article in the Bulletin of the Alpine Garden Society, Vol. 74, part 2, June 2006 by Chris Grey-Wilson on all five of the species that are in the separate sub genus Discogyne.


Only M. discigera of the Discogyne has been regularly grown and that is not easy. M. torquata was flowered by more than 1 grower many years ago in Scotland and that proved very difficult. Likely to be difficult.

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Saturday, 12 March 2005

Meconopsis tibetica - Photos In The Garden

Flowered by Geoff Hill of the Meconopsis Group in 2010 in Scotland. All of the species in the Discogyne that have been tried have proved very difficult to grow let alone flower and this is rather a triumph since only one seed germinated. The definging dark purple disc beyond the protruding purple stgma can be clearly seen. The copy right of this image belongs to Geoff Hill. Typical rosette of the sub genus Discogyne with characteristic lobing at the tip of each leaf. This species, like others in the section, is monocarpic but may take some years to flower. This plant set no seed - nearly all species need cross pollinating -but perhaps it is the'easy' one of the section and is clearly very desirable if it is growable. Like most Meconopsis a cool northern climate will suit it.