Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Papaveraceae or Poppy Family

The Papaveraceae or Poppy Family is a large taxon with more than 40 genera. They are found around the world in distribution where they are found in temperate and subtropical climates but mostly found north of the Equator. Papaveraceae are mostly herbaceous with a few shrubs and small trees.

Plant characteristics; annuals, biennials or perennials, scapose or caulescent; plants produce latex with clear, white or colored sap often sticky; stems are either leafy or naked, erect, spreading or decumbent, leaves may be basal or basal and cauline, alternate, opposite, some are whorled, leaves with petioles or may be sessile, without stipules, unlobed or with 1 to 3 odd-pinnate, sub palmate or palmate lobes, flowering stalks with axillary or terminal flowers and some have many more inflorescent arrangements. Papaveraceae flowers are pollinated by insects or may be wind pollinated; flowers often showy and large, flowers may be solitary; fruits mostly dry, usually a capsule that breaks open at maturity to release seeds.

Papaveraceae have been divided into 3 families or sometimes subfamilies such as; the Papaveraceae, the Fumariaceae and the Pteridophyllaceae. Some taxonomists have other classifications for the Papaveraceae including classifying the Fumariaceae as a separate family.

Economic Importance: Members of the Poppy family often have large beautiful flowers and many are cultivated and grown as ornamentals. The California Poppy, Eschscholtzia californica, is the state flower of California. Seeds of Papaver somniferum are used in cooking, baking, and poppy seed oil. Two species are used in the production of opium and derivatives for pharmaceutical use.

Species in the Papaveraceae family described within The Plant List belong to 41 plant genera with 920 accepted species names. The USDA site show 19 genera and 124 accepted taxa overall for North America.

  • Argemone gracilenta, Sonoran Pricklypoppy
  • Argemone pleiacantha, Southwestern Pricklypoppy
  • Eschscholzia californica, California Poppy
  • Eschscholzia glyptosperma, Desert Poppy
  • Eschscholzia minutiflora, Pygmy Poppy
  • Platystemon californicus, Creamcups
  • Romneya coulteri, Coulter's Matilija Poppy
  • Date Family Profile Completed: 03/29/2016
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database.
    Robert W. Kiger in Flora of North America (vol. 3); (accessed 03/29/2016)
    The Plant List (2013). (accessed 03/29/2016)
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Papaveraceae', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 January 2016, 21:18 UTC,> [accessed 29 March 2016]