Wednesday, August 15, 2012

See, This Is Why...

This is why I encourage the growth of the Prickly Poppy (Argemone polyanthemos) in my garden. Yes, the so-called "Prickly Poppy" or "Crested PricklyPoppy" is an invading weed in dry, barren soil, but it certainly catches the eye.  Look at those white petals, the cleanest perfect white ever created, and made out of the finest parchment.  Experience the cloud of yellow stamens floating above the petals like the center of the sun.  Notice the purple cross (stigma) at the center of the bloom, a royal receptacle waiting to collect the golden pollen.  And look at the attendant honeybees in the pictures on this page.  In that overall shot of the whole plant, every single open bloom has a bee in it.  Count them.  Imagine a garden bed full of white poppies and honeybees.

On the recent day that I took them, just past the worst heat of the hottest summer on record, nothing else was blooming in such perfect form in my garden.  Nothing else was even close. There were a few decrepit drought survivors trying to bloom, but they played second fiddle to this beauty.  I know that I've written a tribute to this plant before, but witness again an opportunistic plant  that deserves more than to be called "just another weed."

Perfect blooms in the heat of summer? Healthy blueish foliage during a drought? No pests? Nectar source for bees?  Xeriscape worthy?  Someone (maybe me?) should spend half a lifetime in a worthwhile manner trying to breed these weeds into a decent and refined garden plant.  If this plant lost a few prickles and maybe gained some foliage density, gardeners would fall all over themselves trying to buy it.  Imagine the possibilities if it could be developed with some color variety or variegated foliage.  Why, it might even make the cover of Fine Gardening.  Now that would be something.


  1. We must admire a plant that will flower so beautifully in the face of heat and drought! (and in such a lovely shade of white)

  2. I've been looking at prickly poppy in the wild and thinking seriously about trying to collect some seed to scatter at home. You've just increased my impetus!

  3. First thing I thought before actually reading the text was "Romneya californica - Matilja Poppy. But Prickly Poppy flowers look identical, but much smaller. Still, they are so close. Foliage on the other hand is an entirely different matter.

    Funny that it should be called a weed. I'd never personally classify it as such. But then weed classification is a matter of personal opinion I guess. An Iowa Farmer may find a beautiful Oak Tree in the middle of his Corn Field to be a weed. In other words undesirable plant. Of course this year that same farmer may get more yield in acorns than corn on the cob.



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