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Chelela blue poppies depleted
Blue Poppy
Blue poppies, the national flower, that once grew in abundance at the Chelela pass in Paro has been severely depleted in recent years according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature. "We spotted only three flowering and two seedlings at Chelela this June and July," said the society's ecologist and ornithologist, Rebecca Pradhan. According to the society there were about 150 blue poppies in the 1990s. In 2000, the number had dwindled to 20 and to 11 in 2002.

The society feels that the depletion is because of plundering by people from neighbouring districts with particular interest in gardening. With the highway going through the pass it is easy for people to go and dig up the flowers which are about 5 to 10 minutes walk away from the road," said Rebecca Pradhan.

Small holes left in the flowering area indicated that people had been digging up these plants according to the society. The society fears that this species might be wiped out totally from Chelela. However, no research has been done and the society does not know the implications it might have on the ecosystem.

Chelela Pass
Of the four types of blue poppies found in the area, the "Meconopsis napaulensis" is rare and a total wipe out of the species could lead to its extinction from that area too. "People do not recognise the different types of species. Based on their judgement of the colour they recognise it as blue poppies," said Rebecca Pradhan. To the professional the different kinds can be differentiated by the characteristics of the plants like the shape of the leaves, the seed pod or the filament.

"People like the idea of having the blue poppies in their garden since it's Bhutan's national flower as well as a rare plant but they should keep in mind the social responsibility to protect and preserve what is in the country." "Blue poppies, not even the general garden poppies can grow if they are transplanted," said Rebecca Pradhan. "The best case would be to sow the seed."

The blue poppy is found in the alpine region across the country and Bhutan has 13 types of Blue poppy of which one is endemic to Bhutan.

The meconopsis superba is found in Halakyula, Haa and the flowers are white in colour. This poppy is said to be one and a half metres tall and a plant has an average of about 30 flowers according to the society. The plant is monocarpic and it dies after flowering.

The society has put up a proposal to the government for monitoring the Chelela area according to the society.

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