As the name implies, the Mexican Poppy (Argemone subfusiformis) – also known as Prickly Poppy – originates in Mexico. It is thought to have been introduced into South Africa at the turn of the 20th century and is a common pioneer species throughout the country. These plants grow on waste land, in disturbed sites, and can be particularly troublesome on cultivated land. It is not surprising then, that it has been declared an invader plant in South Africa: all parts of the plant are toxic.
The prickly stems and leaves are a bluish-green or greyish-green in colour and are hairless. As you can see from the photograph above, the whitish-coloured veins give the leaves a variegated appearance. They are deeply serrated and have several sharp spines along their margins. The spiny capsules are generally oval, oblong or egg-shaped.
When the spiny flower buds open they reveal rather attractive flowers with six pale yellow, lemon or cream-coloured petals.
The flowers have a number of stamens surrounding a purplish stigma.
Flowering occurs mostly during spring and summer.
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