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The species of Meconopsis
(Photographs mostly taken in the wild)

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  • George Taylor's Classification of Meconopsis species may be helpful.
  • Figures in parentheses in the text refer to the pictures. For details of the photographers see Contributors.

Meconopsis aculeata

Meconopsis aculeata is a member of the large Series Aculeatae. As with other members of this Series, it is monocarpic and the leaves die down in autumn leaving an over-wintering resting bud. Two features readily distinguish it from the others: geographical distribution and leaf-shape. It is native to the more north-westerly part of the Himalayan range, being found in Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in NW India. Here, the summer monsoons are far less intense (more akin to summer rains in Britain than usually associated with the term monsoon) than further south and east as in Nepal and Sikkim (see Distribution map). Unlike other members of the Series, apart from M. speciosa, the leaves are deeply lobed.

M. aculeata has been studied over a number of years in Himachal Pradesh by Margaret and Henry Taylor.They have found it widely distributed over the province, growing at 3000-4000m. It is the only Meconopsis they have seen. It does not grow in large drifts, but is usually scattered in groups of just a few plants. It is quite common on the wet side of the mountain range on rock ledges and near streams. On the dry rain-shadow side it occurs beside irrigation ditches and snow-melt streams. Both Margaret and Henry and Toshio Yoshida have seen M. aculeata on the Bara Lacha Pass in Lahual, which is north of the main range and has a very low rainfall.

The margins of the leaves are very variable in the degree and shape of lobing. Margaret and Henry collected leaves over a two week period in July 2004 from a number of locations on both sides of the Rupin Pass, east of Shimla at 3000-4000m. They concluded that the wide variation in leaf shape (9) is not correlated with geographical distribution, but is due to individual variation.

M. aculeata is amenable to cultivation, and seeds may often be offered in specialist society seed-lists.

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1. S of Rohtang Pass,
S-facing rocky cliff, 3300m
1st Sept. 1989,
Photographer: Toshio Yoshida

2. S of Rohtang Pass, Top of a calcareous cliff, 3800m
4th Aug1986
Photographer: Toshio Yoshida

3. W of Bara Lacha Pass in Lahoul. Very low rainfall area. Calcareous rocky slope, 4500m
28th July 1986
Photographer: Toshio Yoshida

4. Hemkund, Garhwal, Uttar Pradesh On rocky slope 3700m.
17th July 1995
Photographer: Toshio Yoshida

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7. Nalgan Pass, backside, Kinnaur Wet rock ledges on wet S side of the range 4300m
Photographers: Margaret & Henry Taylor

5. Rohtang Pass, Rocky ledge on S monsoon side. 3000m Aug1991
Photographers: Margaret & Henry Taylor

6. Rohtang Pass, Wet rocks on S monsoon side of the mountain. 3000m
July 1987
Photographers: Margaret & Henry Taylor

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HT003

8. Chaling, Lahual. Near irrigation channel in rain-shadow area N of the main range. 3000m
22nd July 1991
Photographers: Margaret & Henry Taylor

9. Variability in leaf-shape. (See text above)
Photographers: Margaret & Henry Taylor