Meconopsis cambrica

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaPapaveraceaeMeconopsisMeconopsis cambrica


A long-lived perennial herb, native in damp, rocky woodlands and on shaded cliff ledges. It is also grown in gardens and has become naturalised on hedge banks, walls, roadsides and waste ground. Native plants range from the lowlands to 640 m (Cwm Idwal, Caerns.).



World Distribution

Oceanic Boreo-temperate element; confined as a native to W. Europe but widely naturalised outside its native range.

Broad Habitats

Broadleaved, mixed and yew woodland

Light (Ellenberg): 4

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 5

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.5

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1321

Height (cm): 60

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 54

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 77

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Atlas Change Index: 2.36

Weighted Changed Factor: 60

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Meconopsis cambrica (L.) Viguier

Welsh poppy

Status: scarce


This species shows a marked preference for moist shady, rocky places, often under trees and usually on base-rich soils. It also forms part of the arctic-alpine community in Wales, where associated species typically include Arabis hirsuta, Crepis paludosa, Festuca vivipara, Hymenophyllum wilsonii, Luzula sylvatica, Oxyria digyna, Saxifraga hypnoides, S. oppositifolia, S. stellaris, Sedum rosea and Selaginella selaginoides (Price Evans 1932; Price Evans 1944). Introduced populations occur along roadsides, hedges, walls and waste ground often some distance from habitation. It is confined, as a native, to land between 100 and 610 metres in Snowdonia, but introduced populations descend almost to sea-level in some areas. 

M. cambrica is a long-lived perennial, flowering from June to September. Reproduction is entirely by seed.

This species is slowly decreasing as a native plant but is much grown in gardens and is now widespread and increasing as an established alien. Garden populations increase rapidly from self-sown seed but, paradoxically, native and some established populations seem reluctant to spread into apparently ideal habitats nearby.

M. cambrica is endemic to western Europe from western Ireland southwards to western France and northern Spain (Jalas & Suominen 1991). It is recorded as an introduction elsewhere in Europe. It is the only European representative of an otherwise Asiatic genus.

Native plants have predominantly yellow flowers, whilst those of established aliens may be yellow, orange or even scarlet, and are sometimes double (Huxley 1992).


R. G. Ellis

Atlas text references

Atlas (29d)
Jalas & Suominen (1991)
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.