Eomecon chionantha

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", as per 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, especially in Asia, Africa and South America, can carry the parasite that induces schistosomiasis, "the second most socioeconomically devastating parasitic disease after malaria".

Posted by: Daniel Mosquin    Source