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Top 10 - 2012

Poppies.... now they'll sleep!

(Photo credit: Paul Egan, Meconopsis autumnalis flowering in the wild at 4000 m, Nepal Himalaya)

Name: Meconopsis autumnalis

Common Name: Nepalese Autumn Poppy

Family: Papaveraceae

How it made the Top 10: Many newly discovered species are small in size or secretive in habits, but not all. This beautiful and vibrantly colored poppy has remained unknown to science until now. This is no doubt due in part to the extreme environment where the flower lives at an elevation of 10,827 to 13,780 feet in central Nepal. It is also evidence of the paucity of botanists studying the Asian flora as specimens of Meconopsis autumnalis had been collected twice before, although not recognized as new -- first in 1962 by the storied Himalayan plant hunter Adam Stainton and again in 1994 by staff of the University of Tokyo’s Department of Plant Resources. The recent rediscovery of the poppy in the field was made by intrepid botanists collecting plants miles from human habitation in heavy monsoon rains.

Etymology: autumnalis to reflect the autumn season when the plant flowers.

Type Material: Holotype and isotypes – Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Type Locality: Ganesh Himal (Rasuwa District), central Nepal

Reference: Egan, P.A. (2011). Meconopsis autumnalis and M. manasluensis (Papaveraceae), two new species of Himalayan poppy endemic to central Nepal with sympatric congeners. Phytotaxa 20: 47 – 56.

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