Argemone mexicana

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Argemone mexicana L.


Life form: annual or biennial
Usage: economic plant / Usage: ornamental plant

Exposure: sun   8

Moisture: dry

Soil: sand - Soil: gritty-sandy

Arrangement: alternate
Leaves: decidious

Shape: obovate

Division: simple

Shape: cup-shaped
Fruit: not specified

3A / f8da21 

Inflorescence: solitary

Petals: single
Habit: not specified

Growth form: not specified



Argemone mexicana, commonly known as Mexican Poppy, Devil's Fig, is an annual or short-lived perennial.


Argemone mexicana was described in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus. The name is considered as validly published.


The Mexican Poppy is a species in the genus Argemone (prickly poppy) which contains approximately 40 to 47 species and belongs to the family of the Papaveraceae (Poppy Family).


Argemone mexicana - stem and leaves
Argemone mexicana - leaves and flower
Argemone mexicana - flower


The plants grow to a height of approximately one metre. They have a stout habit and usually a short stem. The stem is branched and smooth or with few fulvous spines. The plants reach heights of 80 to 100 centimetres.


Argemone mexicana is a decidious plant with simple, alternate leaves. The leaves are glaucous with a whitish midrib that has blue-green markings. The margin is pinnatipartite with spiny sections. The basal leaves are broadly elliptic, obovate or oblanceolate. They are up to 25 centimetres long and 2.5 to 8 centimetres wide. The petiole is only 1 centimetre long. Cauline leaves are similar to basal ones with the upper leaves being smaller and sessile, sometimes also subamplexicaul.

Flowers and Fruit

The cup-shaped flowers bright yellow to yellow-orange, rarely pale lemon yellow. The plants bloom from August to September with flowers arranged solitary or sometimes in few-flowered cymes. Argemone mexicana has hermaphroditic flowers with golden yellow stamens that are self-fertile.

The capsule are oblong to broadly elliptic and ripen in autumn. The seeds are toxic like the rest of the plant.


Argemone mexicana is believed to be native to Central America and the West Indies. Since it is widely cultivated it has become naturalized in Southern and Central Europe as well as in many suptropical regions where it is often considered a weed.


The Mexican Poppy prefers a sunny site and can withstand temperatures down to -12º C (USDA zone 8). It grows best in sand and sandy-gritty soil that is dry.


The plant can be used in mixed borders.

Argemone mexicana is used in traditional medicine both in Asia and Central America. Used externally its oil is believed to ease headaches and skin diseases. It is also ingested to treat ulcers and worms.

Aeskulap  Please read the health issues note

Maintenance and Propagation

Water moderately during growth and apply a diluted liquid fertilizer once a month.

Seeds can be sown all year round but the best time is spring. Sprinkle on potting soil mixed with sand and cover only lightly with soil. The seeds will germinate within 2 to 6 weeks if provided with enough light, temperatures around 20°C and constantly moist (not wet) soil.


All parts of Argemone mexicana are toxic.

Aeskulap  Please read the health issues note

Pests and Diseases

Fine webs on the plants indicate an infestation with red spider mites. These sap-sucking insects mainly appear under glass and can be controlled either with insecticide or biologically with parasitic mites.


  • Walter Erhardt, Erich Götz, Nils Bödeker, Siegmund Seybold: Der große Zander. Eugen Ulmer KG, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-8001-5406-7. (Ger.)
  • Christoper Brickell (Editor-in-chief): RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. Third edition. Dorling Kindersley, London 2003, ISBN 0-7513-3738-2.
  • Argemone mexicana at

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