The Svartis poppy flower is a very rare plant which mainly grows in Meløy. What could be more natural, than to make it the motif of the municipal coat of arms?
The Yellow poppy flower (Papaver radicatum) grows in a number of places in Norway, preferably on taluses in the mountains. The species of the Yellow poppy flower can be divided into 14 subspecies, each of which look different than the others and are very rare. 10 of those can be found in Norway, the remaining four in Iceland and the Faeroe Islands. The subspecies have probably developed due to the various species having been isolated during a long amount of time, which enabled them to develop their peculiarities.
In the area of the Svartisen glacier in Meløy, a special subspecies called Svartis poppy flower can be found (Papaver radicatum ssp. Subglobosum). It is the motif in Meløy’s municipal coat of arms. The flower is yellow, and grows close to the bluish glacier, which explains the colouring of the coat of arms.
The Svartis poppy flower was scientifically discovered in 1998 by geologist Johan Rekstad, while he was running assays on the Enga glacier, a westerly spur of the Svartisen glacier, which at that time stretched all the way down to sea level with the Holandsfjord. From then on, the Svartis poppy flower has become one of the most studied species of Yellow poppy flower.
All of the 10 Norwegian subspecies are protected by the regulations on endangered species of December 21st, 2001. Above that, the Svartis poppy flower’s habitats are protected by the regulations of the Saltfjell-Svartisen National Park.
The poppy flower in general is very rarely found as heraldic motif. It can be found in some German and British coats of arms, but in Norway, it is only Meløy and Storjord in Troms, which use the poppy flower as a motif in their municipal coat of arms. Meløy’s municipal coat of arms has been designed by Rolf Tidemann, based on an idea by Knut Øvensen.