Meconopsis punicea is guaranteed to attract interest with its tissue-thin petals of bright red showing each and every crease as they grow. The head is supported on a stem to 700mm, so thin that it is surprising it will bear any weight at all. This is covered in short brown hairs which are more noticeable as it kinks over with the weight of the single flower bud.
The four petals drop down to 110mm in length and then, as the head is caught in the breeze, fly open like prayer flags hanging on the mountainsides. Looking inside the petals, the inner darkens black at the well concealing the flattened and lobed stigma, also red in colour.
Multiple purple anthers are held tight until the petals drop and then gain a life of their own. Springing out from the embryo chamber they ripen later than the stigma.
In the wild, Meconopsis punicea is found growing on mountain passes at 3,600m near Hanghong and the Kangali Pass in Sichuan Province, China, where seeds will drop around the short lived perennial clumps. In cultivation it is unusual for the plant to survive for the following year once flowering has occurred.