Friday, 2 June 2017

Ladybird Poppy

I had two fine plants of Ladybird Poppy (Papaver commutatum) today in Holbeck (VC63). The best was in a pavement crack at the base of a lamp post, but not a location where I felt I could take my phone out for a photo. Not the most salubrious of neighbourhoods. The second plant was less well presented. I managed a quick photo before being haranged by a lippy 5(ish) year old tike on a trike!, but did not manage to catch the white edge to the spots. Note how visible the spots are through the underside of two layers of petals.

I am at a loss why British botanist feel it appropriate to lump this species with Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas). Sure the genetics show they are closely related but none of the recent studies I have seen call into question the distinction of the species. In a herbarium they may be tricky but in the field with your eyes open?, come on! The former is well branched, with high leaf mass, and deep red velvety flowers. The later doesn't come close, typically much more slender and I have never seen it put on such lush growth in such poor conditions.

One to distinguish I think, certainly recent trends suggest a need for caution in lumping. As a minimum it surely merits subspecific status. See also the invaluable Alien Plants of Belgium. Google has some great images of the species at its best in garden settings.

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