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Argemone mexicana - L.

Common Name Prickly Poppy, Mexican pricklypoppy
Family Papaveraceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards All parts of the plant, including the seed, contain toxic alkaloids[175].
Habitats Dry soils along roadsides and in waste places and fields[72, 192].
Range South-western N. America. Naturalized in C. and S. Europe[50].
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Argemone mexicana Prickly Poppy, Mexican pricklypoppy

Argemone mexicana Prickly Poppy, Mexican pricklypoppy


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A hardy pioneering poppy species with yellow flowers from Mexico and now widely naturalized in many parts of the world. Some very useful medicinal qualities and some suggestions that the leaves can be eaten. The seed oil is used for lighting and soap and potentially may be a Biodiesel. Common Names: Mexican pricklepoppy; Mexican pricklypoppy; Mexican thistle; prickly poppy; yellow thistle. Spanish: adormidera espinosa; cardo blanco; chicalote. French: argémone du Mexique; argemone mexicaine; pavot epineux. Portuguese: papoula-do-Mexico. Argentina: cardo amarillo. Bangladesh: Shialkata. Brazil: cardo-amarelo; cardo-santa; cardo-santa-maria; figo-do-inferno; papoula-de-espinho; papoula-espinhosa. Germany: Mexikanischer Stachelmohn. Haiti: chardon béni. India: agara; bharband; bharbhar; brahamadandi; bramandandu; kantakusama; katelisatyanasi; satyonasi. Indonesia: droedjoe; tjelangkringan. Italy: papavero messicano. Japan: Azami-Geshi. Kenya: ekijembajembe; mkumajalaga. Mauritius: chardon du pays. Mexico: chicalote. Myanmar: kye-ja. Netherlands: stekelpapaver. Niger: Boginahi; Dàyí gííwáá; Hákóórín kádà; Káákí rúwàn Allàh; Kàankámárkà tà bíí kà; kamukamu; Kánkààmáá; Karanko; Kùùrár fataakee; Kwarakko; Kwaranko; Wagiri; Wasiri. Nigeria: Boginahi; Dàyí gííwáá; Hákóórín kádà; Káákí rúwàn Allàh; Kàankámárkà tà bíí kà; kamukamu; Kánkààmáá; Karanko; Kùùrár fataakee; Kwarakko; Kwaranko; Wagiri; Wasiri. Pakistan: kanderi; kundiari; sialkanta. Paraguay: Cardo santo. Puerto Rico: cardosanto. South Africa: yellow-flowered Mexican poppy. Zimbabwe: umjelemani.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Argemone mexicana is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 8. It is in flower from June to August, and the seeds ripen from July to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs). The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


A. ochroleuca.

Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Oil
Edible Uses: Oil

Leaves[177] No further details are given but caution is advised, see the notes on toxicity at the top of the page.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Alterative  Analgesic  Antispasmodic  Antitussive  Demulcent  Emetic  Expectorant  Hallucinogenic  
Purgative  Sedative  Skin  Warts

The whole plant is analgesic, antispasmodic, possibly hallucinogenic and sedative[46, 61, 178, 181, 192, 254]. It contains alkaloids similar to those in the opium poppy (P. somniferum) and so can be used as a mild pain-killer[254]. The fresh yellow, milky, acrid sap contains protein-dissolving substances and has been used in the treatment of warts, cold sores, cutaneous affections, skin diseases, itches etc[207, 243, 254]. It has also been used to treat cataracts[254] and has been taken internally in the treatment of dropsy and jaundice[240, 243]. The root is alterative and has been used in the treatment of chronic skin diseases[240, 243]. The flowers are expectorant and have been used in the treatment of coughs and other chest complaints[254]. The seed is demulcent, emetic, expectorant and laxative[240, 243]. An infusion, in small quantities, is used as a sedative for children, but caution is advised since the oil in the seed is strongly purgative[254]. The seed has also been used as an antidote to snake poisoning[240, 243]. The pounded seeds, mixed with mustard oil, are applied externally to treat itchy skin[272]. The oil from the seed is demulcent and purgative[254, 272]. It has been used externally in the treatment of skin problems[240, 243, 272]. Caution is advised in the use of this oil, prolonged ingestion produces toxic effects resembling those occurring in epidemic dropsy[240].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Essential  Oil

A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed, used for lighting, soap etc[46, 61, 103, 171, 272]. A medicinal fixed oil (essential oil?) is obtained from the seed[178]. Biodiesel production may be possible from the seed oil using crystalline manganese carbonate.

Special Uses

Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Easily grown in a light soil in a sunny position[1, 134, 166]. Does best in a poor well-drained soil[134]. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c[200]. Usually grown as a hardy annual in Britain[1]. It resents being transplanted and should be sown in situ[134].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow April in situ[200]. The seed usually germinates in 3 - 4 weeks at 15°c[134].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

This plant can be weedy or invasive. A widespread annual weed to agricultural crops and wastelands especially tropics and warm temperate regions.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Argemone albifloraWhite Prickly Poppy, Bluestem pricklypoppyAnnual1.5 6-9  LNDM01 
Papaver argemonePrickly Poppy, Long pricklyhead poppyAnnual0.4 7-10  LMHNM01 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

MOHAMMED E.KHIDER   Wed Apr 13 18:19:56 2005

khider,M.T.(2002).Toxicity of argemone mexicana seeds to poultry,M.V.Sc. thesis. University of Khartoum ,Sudan. details on other pages.

Link: - Toxicity of argemone mexicana seeds to poultry.

sandip gangurde   Mon Dec 10 2007

i am student of b pharm of india , i want to just know about, how toxic effectscan be inhibited on living being of its doage form.

Dinesh   Thu Apr 17 2008

what about the toxicity of argemone mexicana, its lethal dose and fetal period?

ethno   Tue Nov 25 2008

hello! if you search seeds, there are in ethnoplants

Ethnoplants Argemone mexicana seeds

anuj sharma   Wed Nov 26 2008

its nice to get knowledge about the argemone mexicana and this is an very good web site which help me a lot. thank you very much.

   May 17 2014 12:00AM

"Seeds of a Cure" by Brendan Borrell. Scientific American, June 2014. Pages 49-53. Discusses use of Argemone mexicana to treat malaria. Trial in Mali in 2010 proved 89% of patients recovered, vs 95 percent taking Artemisinin-combination therapies (ACT).

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