Eomecon chionantha

Another round of thanks to J.G. in S.F.@Flickr for contributing an image to BPotD (original image | Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool). This continues the series on the plant biodiversity of China.

Eomecon chionantha is known in English as either dawn-poppy or snow-poppy. The species is widespread in eastern temperate China, where plants grow in woodlands with moist soils and dappled shade.

Christopher Grey-Wilson, in his 1993 book Poppies, extols the virtues of Eomecon chionantha as a garden plant. In addition to the “simplicity of its elegant white flowers”, he mentions that the leaves retain interest for much of the growing season. For a photograph of an entire plant, scroll down this page on perennials growing at the Botanic Gardens and Arboretum of Mendel University of Agriculture and Forestry, in Brno, Czech Republic. You can also read about an Ontarian gardener’s experience with Eomecon chionantha at Teza’s Garden. Grey-Wilson concludes his account of Eomecon chionantha with “Amongst the gaudier and more brazen races of poppy this ones makes a pleasant and subtler contrast and for that reason it is often dismissed as a ‘planter’s plant’. This is generally taken to mean that none but the most dedicated gardener would dream of growing it, or, indeed would want to but this surely would be wholly unjustified.”

The underground components of Eomecon chionantha have a couple interesting properties. First, the lengthy underground stolons “ooze an orange-red sap when cut”, according to Grey-Wilson. Secondly, an extract from the rhizome (or root-stalk) has been investigated as an economic source of a molluscicide by Chinese scientists. Gardeners will be familiar with molluscicides, such as snail or slug bait, for control of these sometimes pests. The impetus for researching Eomecon chionantha, however, was for a different reason: to find a potential method to control fresh-water snails. Snails, particularly in Asia, Africa and South America, can carry the parasite that induces schistosomiasis, “the second most socioeconomically devastating parasitic disease after malaria”.

Eomecon chionantha

7 responses to “Eomecon chionantha”

  1. quin

    i agree with Grey-Wilson in his indictment of ‘snooty’ attitudes of certain ‘plantophiles’. the delicacy and quality of color of the foliage shot you have referred us to reminds me of Sanguinaria (also with a ‘bloody’ root) and Stylophorum leafage – some other lovely Papavs. thanks for the interesting information

  2. beverley bowhay

    RW Emerson wrote that flowers are the laughter of the earth. This flower has a delicate lady-like laugh…some flowers are a belly-laugh.

  3. Calochilus

    In Canberra, Australia, this delightful plant has real weed potential. Could I be so lucky with Meconopsis 🙂

  4. Meg Gaddum

    Sadly it has become a weed in some places in New Zealand and is now officially banned from sale and propagation.

  5. elizabeth a airhart

    lovely plant and flower and invasive
    thank you for an informative write up
    in searching the snow poppy i came to
    tim entwisle blog talking plants blog spot .com
    the others on this page would know him i am usa
    he has been china daniel with fine pictures
    and daniel perhaps you could go next july
    to the int bot congress in au 2011
    would you just look at all i come across from bot

  6. swampr0se

    This flower was posted as part of a series on Chinese biodiversity. Eomecon chionantha spreads prolifically by seed and stolon. New Zealand has declared it an ‘unwanted organism’ because it has spread to the wild. The biodiversity of the eastern woodland I love is already so compromised by introduced exotic garden plants (buckthorn, English ivy, Asian bittersweet). I am all for interesting plants, just ones that will stay in the garden. Eomecon chionantha strikes me as one that is not going to stay long inside the garden gate, and will soon be threatening the biodiversity of eastern woodlands.

  7. Daniel Mosquin

    Well, definitely better to be safe than sorry. I didn’t catch any references to invasiveness in New Zealand when researching the species, but I now see that is the case.
    With regards to people’s experiences in North America, only a few jurisdictions make note of “invasive potential”, because of its aggressiveness in garden situations.

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