Prickly Poppy

Argemone pleiacantha ?

Argemone, Prickly Poppy, photo © by Michael Plagens

Photographed at Hassayampa Box Canyon, Yavapai Co., Arizona. April 2008.

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Argemone pleicantha, photo © by Michael Plagens

Roadside west of Tonopah, Arizona. 5 Apr. 2020.

ARMED. Leaves, buds and stems are covered with long, thin, sharp prickles. In addition the foliage and fruit contain toxic alkaloids.

PERENNIAL/ANNUAL: Tall annual of sandy or gravelly soil mostly along washes. Also at roadsides and pastures.

LEAVES: Leaves are deeply lobed with sharply serrate margins. Blue-green in color.

RANGE: Several species of white-petaled Argemone poppies may be present in the Sonoran Desert. A. pleiacantha may dominate in the eastern portions of the Sonoran and into the Chihuahuan Deserts. Separation of the species requires sometimes hazardous examination of the arrangement of prickles. The plants are avoided by grazing animals and therefore become common and weedy on rangeland.

FLOWERS: Large, broad, white petals surround a dense group of many yellow stamens. Flowering mid to late spring through summer months.

FRUIT: Dry capsules also densely prickly split from apex to release numerous small seeds. Where the developing fruits have been damaged sap emerges and dries black.

The flower's pollen draws a variety if insects including bees and blister beetles. In the video watch how honey bees race through the forest of stamens gathering nutritious pollen as they go.

Red-eared Blister Beetle

Red-eared Blister Beetle

Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Papaveraceae -- Poppy Family

More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 9 Jan. 2009,
updated 12 May 2020.