White poppy found only in Bhutan

The rarest of the rare plant species, the White Poppy botanically known as Meconopsis superb, is found very scarcely in a small stretch of area in Toorsa Strict Nature Reserve (TSNR) in Haa.

Many environmentalists and conservationists around the world state the White Poppy is exclusive to Bhutan. Officials in Bhutan claim that White Poppy is a rare plant found nowhere else in the world.

The rare flower grows only on rocks and moraine dams at high altitudes. It is endemic

only to TSNR and known to grow in places within the park areas such as Haala, Jula, Chala, Dophu and Rubtasho areas.

The White Poppy is very important and significant for the environmental community, that if it is lost from TSNR, it is tantamount to disappearance from the world. “For this flower, local extinction is equal to global extinction.” said one of the forest officials.

The sighting was made within the altitudinal range of 4100 to 4250 meter above sea level in the designated poppy trail. The herbaceous plant, found commonly among shrubs on screed slopes, produces a white flower in the month of June and August.

The poppy is an angiosperm, which means, it is a flower bearing plant belonging to the family Papaveraceae. Poppies are used especially for ornamental purpose. The colorful flowers are raised as ornamental plant that adorns the house, offices, and other structures. But some of the poppy varieties are consumed as food, especially the floral parts and are considered a delicacy.

A few more varieties are also known to be used for producing powerful medicinal alkaloid opium. This extract from a certain poppy has been in use since ancient times to create analgesic and narcotic medicinal and recreational drugs.

Environmentalist describes it as having flowers that comes with 4 to 6 petals. Many of its stamens form a conspicuous whorl in the centre of the flower and an ovary consisting of from 2 to many fused carpels. In the wild, poppies are also known to grow at the incredible height of over 4 feet tall, and 6 inches width.

Besides being host for the rare poppy species, TSNR is also known to have diverse plants species thriving within the park area. These includes 137 species of trees, 68 species of shrubs, 182 species of herbs, 6 species of bamboo, 10 species of ferns, 10 species of orchids, 8 species of grasses, and 5 species of weeds.

Since the White Poppy is a very rare plant, the park office is placing various measures to preserve and ensure its genetic continuity.

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