Are you ready now for a disappointing fact about George Leigh Mallory’s Blue Poppy?
Oh, Meconopsis betonicifolia is indeed truly blue. And it honestly did first come to England from the Himalayan Plateau, courtesy of legendary mountaineer George Leigh Mallory—who tragically perished during his next attempt to conquer Mt. Everest..
It is even possible, say mountaineers who found Mallory’s frozen and preserved body in 1999, and erected a cairn over his remains —it is possible, although not likely, that Mallory reached the summit of Everest before falling to his death.
All these facts remain true. But it pains me a bit to admit that Meconopsis betonicifolia, and indeed all the other beautiful flowering plants in the genus Meconopsis—they are not really Poppies.
The family Papaveraceæ contains all real Poppies. The “Himalayan Blue Poppy” was so named because it possesses the crepe-like petals, and the prominent anthers and pistil of true poppies. But it doesn’t belong to Papaveraceæ, and so is only a Poppy imitator.
You can see a clear difference in this photograph, in which the Meconopsis blossom reaches a balloon-like stage that distinguishes it from true poppies.
But here’s the question, dear Follower or Visitor.
Do you care?