M. punicea

Plant portraits

These pages are under development and are being added to as time permits.

(For a quick full list of all pages in the plant portraits section please click here.)

This section has been been divided under three main headings.

  1. Big perennial blue poppy species and hybrids in cultivation

  2. Species growing in the wild

  3. Other species and hybrids in cultivation (under development)

With reference to 2. above, to help in building up an informative pictorial library, we would be pleased to receive offers from readers of photographs of species growing in the wild, to be considered for addition to the site. As yet, we still do not have any photographs of many of the species. If you are able to help in this way, please contact us at plantmatters@meconopsis.org.

M. 'Mrs Jebb'
(Infertile Blue Group)

1. Big perennial blue poppies in cultivation

Portrait pic

For the big perennial blue poppies in this sub-section, the portraits of the species and hybrids take the form of descriptions, together with photographs of the various stages in the growth-cycles from leaf emergence in spring, through to flowering and finally to fruit-capsule development and seed production (if seeds are produced). All these stages are valuable in determining identities. Emphasis is given on how to distinguish the various species and hybrids.

For an overall description of the big perennial blue poppies, see the supplementary page: General description. The shades of blue are often quite variable and a discussion of this merits a separate supplementary page Colour range.

M. 'Barney's Blue'
(George Sherriff Group)

Individual portraits are to be found within the Classification outlined below.

To view supplementary pages in a window with menus click here first.

  • Species:
    MM. baileyi (M. betonicifolia of hort.), grandis and simplicifolia.
  • George Sherriff Group
    This Group of sterile hybrids is derived from George Sherriff's 1934 seed collection. There are currently six named cultivars.
  • Infertile Blue Group
    MM: x sheldonii, 'Slieve Donard', 'Bobby Masterton', 'Bryan Conway', 'Crewdson Hybrid', 'Mrs Jebb', 'Crarae', 'Maggie Sharp', 'P.C.Abildgaard', 'Cruickshank'
  • Fertile Blue Group
    MM. 'Lingholm', 'Kingsbarns', 'Mop-head', 'Louise', 'Harry Bush'.
  • Cultivars not assigned to a Group
    MM. 'Keillour', 'Willie Duncan', 'Mervyn Kessell', 'Marit', 'Stewart Annand', 'Evelyn', 'Inverewe'.

The distinct fruit-capsules of MM
, 'Lingholm', & 'Jimmy Bayne'
(left to right).

M. baileyi
(M. betonicifolia of hort.)

The classification scheme is explained fully on the supplementary page Classification and Groups. Reference to other parts of the site will provide additional useful information on the classification scheme. In particular see Introduction to the Genus 4 (Big perennial blue poppies together with supplementary pages Identifying and naming, Name phrase qualifications and Table of approved names. The procedures adopted for attempting to clarify the identities and nomenclature of the big perennial blue poppies is outlined in Study Group.

This section is devoted to the taxonomy, descriptions and histories of the big perennial blue poppies. For a discussion on how to grow them, please refer to Cultivation and Propagation. There is also a short section on Recommended plants and Sources on the First-time Growing page.

Apex of flowering stem and upper part of basal leaf of M. 'Ascreavie' (George Sherriff Group)

Species in cultivation
Most of the big perennial blue poppies in gardens are hybrids or probable hybrids, with only three species included under this umbrella term.

  • M. baileyi (M. betonicifolia of hort.) As the result of new taxonomic work, Christopher Grey-Wilson has recently (2009) proposed the restoration of the original name, M baileyi , for the widely grown Tibetan blue poppy, known for decades (since 1934), as M. betonicifolia. For details, see the supplementary page MM. baileyi & betonicifolia reclassification and the entries in Plant Portraits for these species in the wild. Two variants of the normal blue forms are the long-established M. baileyi 'Alba' and more recently-appearing purple-magenta M. baileyi 'Hensol Violet'.
  • M. grandis (Background & History,  Description). This species is rare in cultivation, although plants or seeds given this name are frequently encountered in articles, plant catalogues, seed lists, in nurseries and garden centres and gardens open to the public. The majority of the plants and seeds still so frequently mis-named M. grandis are usually the fertile hybrid M. 'Lingholm' (Fertile Blue Group). Another confusion is with the erroneously named M. grandis GS600 (see M. George Sherriff Group below). Sometimes M. baileyi is also mis-identified as M. grandis. Fortunately efforts are being made to make the true species M. grandis more available.
  • M. simplicifolia once widely grown, for some unknown reason, is now infrequently encountered.

M. grandis

M. 'Lingholm' (Fertile Blue Group)

George Sherriff Group
This is one of three Groups established to accommodate many of the hybrid big blue perennial poppies, and in the past often wrongly named M. grandis GS600. The plants in the Group are essentially sterile (there are occasional reports of fertile seed). We believe that they are derived from George Sherriff's collection of seed in Bhutan in 1934 under the collection number M. grandis GS600 (more correctly, L&S600) and that there are in excess of two dozen distinct clonal entities still growing in gardens. A number of these have been given cultivar names and four were given awards by the Royal Horticultural Society (in 2005).

M. 'Jimmy Bayne'
(George Sherriff Group)

The named cultivars are:
M. 'Jimmy Bayne' AM,  M.'Huntfield' AM,  M. 'Ascreavie' PC
M. 'Barney's Blue' AM,  M.'Dalemain',      M. 'Dorothy Renton'.

Although clearly distinct entities, these cultivars show certain similarities (not surprising, really, if they all derive from the same seed collection). Also, each may show quite a variation in flower colour. In the light of these characteristics a number of supplementary pages are devoted to the topics below.

M. x cookei 'Old Rose'

Bee pollinating M. pseudointegrifolia on
the Beima Shan, Yunnan

Fertile Blue Group
The Fertile Blue Group was established to cater for the fertile big perennial blue poppy hybrids. The most significant of these is the cultivar M. 'Lingholm'. It produces numerous plump, viable seeds thus enabling the production of large numbers of progeny. As a result nurserymen are able to more readily meet the requirements of their customers. It also means that for little cost gardeners can raise a number of plants for their own use. This is in contrast to the sterile hybrids which can only be propagated vegetatively, and thus in relatively small numbers.

For an account of the issues which were involved in the naming of this Group see the supplementary page Naming within the Fertile Blue Group. M. 'Lingholm' is discussed on three supplementary pages (1-3 below) and a fourth is devoted to other cultivars which have so far been attributed to this Group.

A large area of M. 'Lingholm' planted
for commercial seed production

  1. M. 'Lingholm' description
    All stages in the life-cycle of this cultivar are described and illustrated. There are also some hints on cultivation.
  2. M. 'Lingholm' History 
    The origin of this cultivar in the early 1960s, and an account of its naming and subsequent name changes, are related.
  3. Genetics of M. 'Lingholm'
    This fertile cultivar arose from a sterile hybrid. It is almost certain that this was due to the chance event of a doubling of its chromosomes. This process is described.
  4. Other cultivars: MM. 'Louise', 'Mop-head', 'Harry Bush' and 'Kingsbarns'. These are described, together with some details of how they originated. Also the reason that MM. 'Louise', 'Mop-head' and 'Harry Bush', despite being attributed to Fertile Blue Group, are treated as clonal cultivars is explained.

   M. 'Slieve Donard' (Infertile Blue Group)
    at Dawyck Botanic Garden

Infertile Blue Group
As with George Sherriff Group, the cultivars in Infertile Blue Group are almost all "old", long-lived sterile hybrids either known, or believed, to have been growing, in gardens for many decades. Some cultivars show marked similarities to one another indicating that they are closely related, thus paralleling the position seen in George Sherriff Group. But by comparing the full range of cultivars we have identified, we see an array of larger differences, these obviously reflecting less close relationships.

Two cultivars in Infertile Blue Group:
M. 'Crewdson Hybrid' above and
M. 'Crarae' below

Each of the currently named cultivars in the Group is described, together with a discussion of its probable relationship to others within the Group. Some have been given awards by the RHS. Historical notes are also given, insofar as we have been able to establish the stories of the cultivars. All stages of growth can help with diagnoses: i.e. young and mature foliage, flowering-stems, flowers, fruit-capsules and the underground root system - see also supplementary pages Identifying and naming and General description.

The Meconopsis Group has identified more clones than we have so far named. It is important to retain all the clones, clearly identified, in one or more specialist collections. It would be impractical and ill-advised to formally name all of them, but perhaps in future some of the unnamed clones may be deemed sufficiently distinct to be name-worthy.

The named cultivars are described in supplementary pages.
       M. x sheldonii                  M. 'Slieve Donard'            M. 'Bryan Conway'          M. 'Bobby Masterton'
       M. 'Crewdson Hybrid'      M. 'Mrs Jebb'                    M. 'Crarae'                      M. 'Maggie Sharp'
       M. 'P.C. Abildgaard'         M.'Cruickshank'

Cultivars not assigned to a Group
Some cultivars are either so distinct and/or their origin well enough documented that it was not appropriate or necessary to assign them to a Group.
The named cultivars in this category are described in supplementary pages:
        M. 'Keillour',                M. 'Willie Duncan',              M. 'Marit',                       M. 'Stewart Annand',
        M. 'Mervyn Kessell'    M. 'Evelyn'                           M. 'Inverewe

This is the end of section 1, for other sections of Plant Portraits, please click on one of the links

1. Big perennial blue poppy species and hybrids in cultivation
2. Species growing in the wild
3. Other species and hybrids in cultivation (under development)

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