South Dakota Native Plant Research
Papaveraceae : Argemone polyanthemos

Papaveraceae : Argemone polyanthemos


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Family Name


Native American Name

Lakota: ȟókahu wahíŋkpe, uŋ zíyapi


Argemone polyanthemos is an annual to biennial plant with one to a few stems growing from a taproot. Plants vary greatly in size from 0.25 to 1.25 m in height with stems 7-20 mm in diameter. The stems are waxy with few to many yellowish prickles. The leaves are waxy with the upper surface smooth to bearing scattered prickles on the veins, with more prickles on the lower surface. The lower leaves are oblanceolate, deeply pinnately lobed, 7-25 cm long by 3-10 cm wide. The lobes are elliptical to obovate with undulating irregularly spiney-toothed margins and the petioles are winged. The leaves are reduced and become less lobed toward the top, but the margins are like those of the lower leaves. The flowers are 5-12 cm in diameter and are subtended by 2 bracts that are shorter than the sepals. The 3-6 yellowish sepals are 6-10 mm long. The 6-12 white petals are arranged in 2 rows, 2.5-5 cm long and nearly as wide. The center of the flower is dominated by numerous (~150) yellow stamens and the has 3-5 carpels. The fruit is a capsule 2.5-4 cm by 1-1.5 cm wide. The seeds are shiny, dark brown and round. Prickly poppy blooms from May until September. All parts of the plant have a yellow sap that stains the skin and clothing.

Additional Notes

Prickly poppy is a nice addition to gardens where water is limiting. It produces showy blooms over much of the summer. The flowers attract nectar using bees, butterflies and beetles. All of the plant is poisonous if ingested and is not suitable for areas with small children. The spines can also cause irritation to the skin.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Capsules mature in late summer and fall when seeds can then be extracted.

Germination: Seeds require a 60-day cold treatment in moist sand or can be planted out in the fall.

Light: Full sun

Soil: Gravelly, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay

Water: Use little water and prefer dryer soils.

Papaveraceae : Argemone polyanthemos