Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

And now for the white of a white prickly poppy

with 13 comments

White Prickly Poppy Flowering with Other Wildflowers 9787

The fragile petals of Argemone albiflora account for the white in the white prickly poppy. Here’s an early one I found along Clovis Street in southeast Austin on March 25th. Compared to the flower’s bright white, the field beyond looks dull even though the sun was shining in a clear sky. The navy blue flowers were bluebonnets and the magenta ones were phlox. I’m not sure about the yellow wildflowers but I’ll give you my guess next time.

And here to complement the side view of the white prickly poppy is a close-up from May 9 in Great Hills Park that looks down into the center of one of these flowers. Can you say crinkled?

White Prickly Poppy Center 3930A

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 14, 2016 at 5:06 AM

13 Responses

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  1. The combination of blue and magenta is unusual, and the lighting makes even the prickles look truly appealing. I had a white crinkle fabric shirt once that looked just like the texture in the close-up. After my mother ironed it for me, I had to learn to re-crinkle the fabric. The technique clearly wouldn’t work with petals, but no matter: the poppy’s self-crinkling.

    I was curious about Argemone, and found in the CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names that the word comes from the Greek argemon, or cataract. Apparently the plant (or at least some species) were reputed to cure cataracts. I don’t know about that, but they certainly delight my eyes.


    May 14, 2016 at 8:07 AM

    • Your first sentence raises the question of why certain combinations are less frequent than others, or even just plain rare. I’ve wondered in a similar way about cemeteries: ours are so bland, while those in some other cultures are more colorful and more picturesque. And since you brought up clothing, why is standard male clothing in the Western tradition so bland? Imagine a business meeting with everyone dressed like the natives in Guatemala.

      Shinners and Mahler’s notes that the name Argemone is from the Latin word (borrowed from Greek) for a cataract of the eye, as you said. Wikipedia says that “The generic name originated as αργεμωνη in Greek and was applied by Dioscorides to a poppy-like plant used to treat cataracts.” The important part of that is poppy-like, because the plants in the genus Argemone are native to the New World and Hawaii. The ancient Greeks and Romans wouldn’t have known the plants we call prickly poppies. Botanists recycled the Old World name to describe a New World genus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 14, 2016 at 8:33 AM

  2. Even your backgrounds put the majority of the flower “fields” I see here to shame…that is, if flowers felt shame. I doubt they do, although some believe they sense pain. I love flowers with a crinkled texture like this poppy.

    Steve Gingold

    May 14, 2016 at 12:33 PM

    • It’s an interesting admission you make that even the backgrounds here put your flower “fields” up there to shame. Things here have gotten good over the last few weeks, thanks to recent rains (with more today). I hope the balance will shift a bit for you as you get further into spring.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 14, 2016 at 10:42 PM

  3. I like the crinkly petals. What a lovely flower.


    May 14, 2016 at 2:33 PM

  4. You sure can say crinkled .. What a beautiful flower. In the last pic it resembles paper ..


    May 14, 2016 at 10:37 PM

  5. […] no longer remember what the yellow wildflowers in the background of yesterday’s first picture were, but they could well have been tansy mustard, Descurainia pinnata, which was present in goodly […]

  6. Your second photo is amazing. It’s SO beautiful. You and Mother Nature are creating a great piece of art!!!!


    May 20, 2016 at 2:46 PM

    • Thanks. As I see it, the crinkliness of the petals harmonizes with the seemingly centrifugal globe of stamens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 20, 2016 at 3:17 PM

  7. Very crinkly. The ‘Mexicana’ has smoother petals. This one also seems to be a taller plant compared to the Mexicana, which only grows about a foot tall. It looks beautiful in this field.


    February 12, 2018 at 8:03 AM

    • It’s the crinkles that make these flowers so appealing to me. The amount of crinkling varies; there’s less in the first picture than in the second. You’ve made me look forward to these again in a couple of months.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 12, 2018 at 8:09 AM

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