Tuesday, 10 January 2006

Purple Flowers

M. lancifolia
A most beautiful image by Harry Jans of the best known of the purple flowered species from China that are deciduous. This is a very variable species and it may well be that when Chris Grey-Wilson's monograph on the genus is published that there are changes and probably splits. IT MUST BE REMEMBERED that the M. horridula group do sometimes have quite deep purple flowers and that species like M. rudis (in the horridula group) often have washy mauve flowers THE LEAVES however are distinctive since in the M. lancifolia group the spines or hairs are softer and shorter and in fact are quite distinct.
M. impedita
A difficult species to identify, probably only needed in the field since these are difficult to cultivate (except in cold northern climates like Norway). It is scapose but very similar to the also scapose M. venusta and M. pseudovenusta. It is not helped by having very variable leaves from pinnate to long and narrow.
M. pseudovenusta
This is not easy to separate from the previous species or indeed from the one that follows. They all have variable leaf shape, similar coloured flowers and anthers. The one feature that separates this species from the next is the long narrow seed pod of M. venusta.
M. venusta - left half image
Images taken from Sir George Taylor's book Meconopsis. The left hand image is M. venusta and the right pseudovenusta. Both are type specimens. Not really helpful since they do not show all the characters which separate them!. Taylor split these on the basis of the seed pods. A single one is present in these images on M pseudovenusta but none on M. venusta. THE DEFINING CHARACTER IS THE SEED POD ON THE LATTER SHOULD BE LONG AND NARROW. Without this character they are not separable! Seen in flower with no seed pods these three would be very difficult to separate if not impossible.
M. concinna
A high altitude M. lancifolia - always dwarf with a few scapose flowers.
M. henricii
A beautiful large flowered and robust species. This is again variable and the exact relationship between this and other species of purple flowered Chinese species needs more work. It has distintive inflated filaments - a feature it shares with the very closely related M. sinomaculata BUT see also M. pseudohorridula which has been described with inflated filaments.
M. sinomaculata.
Recently described by Chris Grey-Wilson. Particularly separated by the very dark centre to the flower. This is very distinctive but not unique as some other purple species throw specimens with this character. The web master has to confess that he has aways wondered if this is not a hybrid between M. henricii and another purple flowered species. It seems odd that such a distinctive plant should have been missed by the early plant explorers of this area and it does not seem to be widespread. It has the same dilated filaments as M. henricii. The webmaster must confess these are very irrational thoughts but it would help if future explorers to its area of distribution investigated this possibility!
M. delavayi
Has its own separate series in Taylor's classification. Always scapose and without obvious spines or hairs on the leaves. Restricted range around Lijiang in Yunnan.
M. quintuplinervia
Many small delicate flowers in varying shades of mauve/purple. One of the classic Meconopsis in cultivation and of great charm - perennial.
M. forrestii
One of the purple flowered species. This was grown from wild Sichuan seed. The long spines on the leaves are not typical of M. lancifolia and it keys out to this species. This group is in need of revision and the web master has grown few of this group since they are difficult in southern Scotland and only seen 2 species in Yunnan.