Botanical name of blue poppy changed to new species
It has been discovered that the scientific or botanical name of blue poppy was changed from Meconopsis grandis subsp. orientalis to Meconopsis gakyidiana to a new name but the common name of the national flower remains the same as Blue Poppy.
National Biodiversity Center ( NBC), curator of national herbarium Rinchen Yangzom said that taxonomic complex study on Meconopsis of Bhutan was carried out by the National Herbarium, NBC, from 2013 to 2015 in collaboration with Blue Society Japan.
She added that their collaborative research revealed that our national flower is very different from Meconopsis grandis which is found in Nepal. Therefore, our National flower is a species new to science, meaning it’s a new discovery and warranting a new name, Meconopsis gakyidiana ( gakyid– happiness, inspired by our guiding developmental philosophy of GNH, diana - Latinized using International Code of Nomenclature.
NCB’s senior biodiversity officer, Choki Gyeltshen said that the common name in English and Dzongkha names are not changed, they remains the same. But the scientific name has been upgraded from previously known as Meconopsis grandis subsp. orientalis to Meconopsis gakyidiana.
He added that the scientific name has been changed because the current national flower is not Meconopsis grandis, and moreover true Meconopsis grandis is not found in Bhutan, it is found in Sikkim and eastern Nepal.
He said that this Meconopsis gakyidiana ( National Flower) has been discovered as new species along with two new species Meconopsis merakensis and Meconopsis elongata. While, Meconopsis elongata is also an endemic to Bhutan.
Rinchen Yangzom said that the former name, Meconopsis grandis was described by Prain based on the blue poppy from Sikkim. She said that in 1934, George Sherriff, English Botanist, found similar blue poppy in Sakteng, Trashigang.
She also said that botanists then taken it for the same species. In 2010, Gery- Wilson, found the species from Sekteng to be dissimilar to M. grandis and redescribed as M. grandis subsp. orientalis.
Furthermore, during their taxonomic complex study, the three authors, Toshio Yoshida, Rinchen Yangzom and David Long described it as new species and published in 2016.
While in Bhutan, our national flower is found only in Merak and Sekteng, Trashigang, it is also found in adjacent regions of Arunachal Pradesh, India and South- eastern Tibet, China.
Meconopsis elongata restricted western parts of Bhutan, mainly Haa and adjacent regions of Paro and Thimphu while, the Meconopsis merakensis is found in Merak and Sakteng in Trashigang.
The blue poppy which was found in other parts of our country is different species and is not our national flower.
Rinchen Yangzom said that the Flora of Bhutan ( 1984) has recorded 13 species of Meconopsis in Bhutan. However, through their current joint research, the list is updated to 15 species and four intra specific taxa.
Meanwhile, the biological benefits of the flower, she said that Himalayan poppies are much prized commercial plants for their aesthetic value and for Bhutan it has national significance being the national flower of the country.
Picture courtesy to Mr. Toshio Yoshida. Meconopsis merakensis
Picture courtesy to Mr. Toshio Yoshida. The national flower, Blue Puppy (Meconopsis gakyidiana)
Picture courtesy to Mr. Toshio Yoshida. Meconopsis elongata