Prickly Blue-Poppy - Meconopsis horridula

Commonly known as Prickly Blue-Poppy, and Tibetan Poppy, Meconopsis horridula (Ranunculales - Papaveraceae) is an unusual bristly poppy with gorgeous, floppy, blue, tissue-paper flowers. The epithet “horrid” obviously applies to the spiny looking stems and certainly not to the striking cobalt-blue, ivory-eyed flowers.

This is an alpine species which occurs in the Himalayan region. It has been used as a traditional Tibetan medicine to “clear away heat, relieve pain, and mobilize static blood”. Currently chemical investigations on this species has led to the isolation and structural identification of 40 compounds, including several flavonoids, alkaloids and  terpenoids. 

References: [1] - [2] - [3] - [4]

Photo credit: ©Nobuhiro Suhara | Locality: Osaka, Japan (2015)

Blue Himalayan Poppy by Carrie Cole
Via Flickr:
The Blue Himalayan Poppies are blooming at Butchart Gardens and thus my subject for the most part of my visit to the gardens today. Here they take on an almost translucent appearance as the soft light filters through the trees and landing on the delicate petals. Shot with Sony A7 and Pentax SMC 50 1.4. Love this old lens.
Opium Made Easy
Last season was a strange one in my garden, notable not only for the unseasonably cool and wet weather—the talk of gardeners all over New England—but also for its climate of paranoia. One flower was the cause: a tall, breathtaking poppy, with silky scarlet petals and a black heart, the growing of which, I discovered...

I love this Michael Pollan piece, and it certainly has some relevance to my garden as it is this year:

My neighbour told me she was cultivating Meconopsis, which the more-botanically-inclined among you will know as the “Himalayan Blue Poppy.”

This flower – though in the poppy family – produces no opiate compounds.

Thinking I was gathering seed from her Meconopsis plants (I never saw them bloom), I took a few dry seed heads at the end of the last season, saved them over winter…

…and sowed them on my crescent-shaped hügelkultur bed by the swale in February, along with an array of other flowers and grasses.

It hadn’t occurred to me that the flowers I planted were anything other than the blue poppy: I hadn’t looked up foliage characteristics to try and positively identify the hundreds of seedling plants that popped up.

However, I was walking by her garden the other day, and I noticed the most sublime stand of enormous pink poppy flowers.

I studied the blossom and the foliage with new eyes, and sure enough, the neighbour is cultivating Papaver somniferum, the opium poppy. Either she didn’t want me to know, or she was told this was a ‘harmless’ poppy and repeated that to me in good faith.

Upon my return home, I ascertained that the poppies I have planted bear no resemblance in their foliage to Meconopsis.

Long story short: this is how I ended up with a few hundred opium poppies on the cusp of blooming in my yard!