Papaver nudicaule

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Iceland poppy
Papaver miyabeanum 1.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Papaveraceae
Genus: Papaver
Species: P. nudicaule
Binomial name
Papaver nudicaule

Papaver nudicaule (syn. Papaver croceum, P. miyabeanum,[2][3] P. amurense, and P. macounii), the Iceland poppy,[4] is a boreal flowering plant. Native to subpolar regions of Europe, Asia and North America, and the mountains of Central Asia[5] (but not in Iceland), Iceland poppies are hardy but short-lived perennials, often grown as biennials, that yield large, papery, bowl-shaped, lightly fragrant flowers supported by hairy, one foot, curved stems among feathery blue-green foliage 1-6 inches long. They were first described by botanists in 1759. The wild species blooms in white or yellow, and is hardy from USDA Zones 3a-10b. All parts of this plant are likely to be poisonous,[6] containing (like all poppies) toxic alkaloids. In particular, P. nudicaule has been shown to contain the benzophenanthidine alkaloid, chelidonine.[7] It also contains (+)-amurine, (-)-amurensinine, (-)-O-methylthalisopavine, (-)-flavinantine and (-)-amurensine.[8]


Cultivars come in shades of yellow, orange, salmon, rose, pink, cream and white as well as bi-colored varieties. Seed strains include: ‘Champagne Bubbles’ (15-inch plants in orange, pink, scarlet, apricot, yellow, and creamy-white); ‘Wonderland’ (10-inch dwarf strain with flowers up to 4 inches wide); ‘Flamenco’ (pink shades, bordered white, 1½ to 2 feet tall); ‘Party Fun’ (to 1 foot, said to bloom reliably the first year in autumn and the second spring); ‘Illumination’ and ‘Meadow Pastels’ (to 2 feet, perhaps the tallest strains); ‘Matador’ (scarlet flowers to 5 inches across on 16 inch plants); the perennial 'Victory Giants' with red petals and ‘Oregon Rainbows’, which has large selfed, bicolor, and picoteed flowers and is perhaps the best strain for the cool Pacific Northwest[9] (elsewhere this strain’s buds frequently fail to open).

Color variations
White is the dominant color, the others being recessive.


Bud capsule remains on a flower

The plants prefer light, well-drained soil and full sun. The plants are not hardy in hot weather, perishing within a season in hot summer climates.

Iceland poppies, like all poppies, possess exceedingly minute seeds and long taproots that resent disturbance. In cool summer climates on well-drained soils, Iceland poppies can live 2-3 seasons, flowering from early spring to fall.[10]

Iceland poppies are amongst the best poppies for cutting, as they last for several days in the vase.[citation needed]


The genetics of the garden forms of P. nudicaule have been studied, particularly with respect to flower colour.[11] The white flower colour is dominant with respect to yellow. Other colours, such as buff and orange, are recessive.


  1. ^ Linne, Carl von (1753). Species Plantarum. Holmiae :Impensis Laurentii Salvii. p. 507. 
  2. ^ "''Papaver nudicaule'' - Flora of Pakistan". Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  3. ^ John H. Wiersema (2005-02-22). "Genus ''Papaver'' - GRIN taxonomy". Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  4. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  5. ^ John H. Wiersema. "''Papaver nudicaule'' - GRIN taxonomy". Retrieved 2014-04-27. 
  6. ^ Kingsbury, J. M. (1964) Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. pp. 626
  7. ^ Zhang, Y., Pan, H., Chen, S., Meng, Y., Kang, S. (1997). [Minor alkaloids from the capsule of Papaver nudicaule L.] Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi 22: 550-1, 576. In Chinese.
  8. ^ Philipov, S; Istatkova, R; Yadamsurenghiin, GO; Samdan, J; Dangaa, S (2007). "A new 8,14-dihydropromorphinane alkaloid from Papaver nudicaule L". Natural product research. 21 (9): 852–6. doi:10.1080/14786410701494777. PMID 17763104. 
  9. ^ Sunset Publishing (2001) Sunset Western Garden Book, ed. 7 (Sunset Books Incorporated: ISBN 0-376-03874-8)
  10. ^ Armitage, Allan M. (2001) Armitage’s Manual of Annuals, Biennials, and Half-Hardy Perennials (Timber Press; ISBN 0-88192-505-5)
  11. ^ Fabergé, A.C. (1942) Genetics of the scapiflora section of Papaver 1. The Garden Iceland Poppy. Journal of Genetics 44: 169-193.