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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - March 16, 2014

From: McAllen, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Seeds and Seeding, Medicinal Plants, Poisonous Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Different colors of Argemone spp. from McAllen TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I took pictures of at least 5 colors of pricklepoppy today. Is this common to have so many colors in one area? How do I harvest the seedpods and when is the best time to do so?

ANSWER:

We think that living in Hidalgo County, in far South Texas, you are probably in an unique situation to see the maximum number of species of the genus Argemone in bloom. When we searched on Argemone in our Native Plant Database we got 13 species listed as native to North America (excluding Mexico). We further sorted that list by asking for natives to Texas, which gave us 9 results. Finally, we went through that 9 and checked with the USDA Plant Profiles, and found the following 5 listed as native to Hidalgo County.

Argemone sanguinea (Red prickly poppy) - red, pink, February to May

Argemone mexicana (Mexican pricklypoppy) - yellow, March to June

Argemone aenea (Golden pricklypoppy) - yellow, March to August

Argemone albiflora (Bluestem pricklypoppy) - white, March to July

Argemone albiflora ssp. texana (Bluestem pricklypoppy) - white, March to June

The six pictures below from our Image Gallery are those 5 species native to your area. On the face of it, that is not five different colors, but one was listed as "pale blue" and the others are varying shades of white, red, pink and yellow. If you follow each plant link above you can read what their growing conditions are, colors and bloom time to attempt to confirm the colors you found. You will note that we have included two pictures of Argemone sanguinea (Red prickly poppy), one pale pink, one red.

This is not to say you did not see all those colors. Some of them may not have been reported to the USDA, from which we get our information on whether or not the plant is native. Seeds of others may have blown in or been transported by animals or birds and, again, do not appear in our Native Plant Database. Some could even come from seed mixes not devoted exclusively to native plants.

Now, on to your question on propagating these plants. We are sorry to say we did not have as much information in our Native Plant Database on Argemone as we would like. Look again at our webpage on Argemone albiflora ssp. texana (Bluestem pricklypoppy). On that page, pay special attention to Growing Conditions, Propagation and Benefits, which includes a warning on the poisonous parts of the plant. Beyond that, we found these two websites with more information:

Gardeners HQ How to Grow Argemone

Protobase Record Medicinal Plants

 

From the Image Gallery


Red pricklypoppy
Argemone sanguinea

Mexican prickly poppy
Argemone mexicana

Golden pricklypoppy
Argemone aenea

Bluestem pricklypoppy
Argemone albiflora

Texas bluestem pricklypoppy
Argemone albiflora ssp. texana

Red pricklypoppy
Argemone sanguinea

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