Prickly Poppies

Argemone pleicantha

prickly poppy

Prickly poppy is the name used for various species of the Argemone genus, all virtually indistinguishable from each other. Members of the poppy family (Papaveraceae) are characterized by flowers with numerous stamens and 4 to 6 petals.

This very branchy, pale green plant grows to 4 feet high and is covered with yellow pricklies. Long, very lobed, spiny leaves resembling thistles grow to 8 inches. All parts of this plant contain alkaloids that are poisonous. It is common throughout the West because not even cattle eat it.

Genus: Argemone


Throughout the Southwest deserts from California east to Texas and to northern Nevada and Utah.

  • Sonoran Desert (A. munita and A. platyceras)
  • Chihuahuan Desert (A. polyanthemos)
  • Great Basin Desert (A. pleicantha)


Sandy or gravelly desert roadsides and washes below 8,000 feet.


White, papery flowers with a bright, single eye of yellow stamens bloom year round. Flowers grow to 3 inches wide and have 6 broad, delicate, wrinkled petals.

Prickly poppies are also called

  • Thistle Poppy
  • Chicalote
  • Cowboy's Fried Egg

Prickly Poppies

Argemone platyceras

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