Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

White prickly poppy center

with 32 comments

White Prickly Poppy Flower Center 0486

Here’s a close and downward look at Argemone albiflora, the white prickly poppy. Notice the crowd of yellow stamens invariably paying homage to the red-topped pistil that rises above them in the center of the flower. This photograph is from Great Hills Park on April 23, 2013, five years ago today. I’d planned to show the picture soon afterward but put the post aside and only recently rediscovered it. Better late than never.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 23, 2018 at 4:47 AM

32 Responses

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  1. What a great shot! Linda will have to add this to her plate collection.

    Robert Parker

    April 23, 2018 at 8:12 AM

  2. Indeed she will. At first I took it for a sunny side up egg with a dash of hot pepper in the center.


    April 23, 2018 at 8:24 AM

  3. A perfect squared circle Steve 😀
    At first glance I thought it was a plate of food 😀


    April 23, 2018 at 9:00 AM

    • I hadn’t thought of it as a plate but you’re the third commenter in an hour to see it that way, and the second in a row to imagine food on the plate.

      The notion of squaring the circle could get me talking about math but I’ll refrain.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 23, 2018 at 9:03 AM

  4. The egg comparison’s interesting. Down here, it’s the Macartney rose that gets called “the fried egg flower” because of its large yellow center and pristine white petals. When I read your title, i thought maybe we’d really been on the same wave length. I have the most wonderful photo of a wind-stripped white prickly poppy from the Willow City loop. The wind was so strong that day that an entire field of poppies had lost most of their petals — so I took some photos of the stamen. Only one turned out to be in focus, but one is enough.


    April 23, 2018 at 1:31 PM

    • Yeah, the wind’s been a real hindrance in central Texas these last few weeks. On the other hand, that’s why camera makers give us high ISOs and high shutter speeds. As you say, all it takes is one success, and it’s good to hear (and perhaps soon to see) that you had yours.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 23, 2018 at 2:19 PM

    • We have our own native species that is known by the same name, although most like to refer to it as matillija poppy, Romney coulterii.


      April 23, 2018 at 10:24 PM

      • Sure looks like ours, even if it’s in a different genus. I didn’t find an explanation of what distinguishes the genus Romneya from Argemone.

        Steve Schwartzman

        April 24, 2018 at 7:07 AM

        • I would not have guessed that because I have never heard that name before. I do not know where Romneya coulteri is native to because there is so much different information about it. I know it grows wild here, but some old text do not designate it as native anywhere near here.


          April 25, 2018 at 9:06 PM

          • The USDA map at


            shows Romneya coulteri in five southern California counties. The BONAP map at


            also shows the species in five California counties, but not quite the same ones. The BONAP map also shows a presence in Washington state.

            Sounds like there’s more work needed.

            Steve Schwartzman

            April 25, 2018 at 9:17 PM

            • Gee, I thought it was different from both of those. The population in Washington was introduced. (I do not know why that is documented, since it has been introduced in many counties here.) I think I would agree more with the second map, but would add Imperial County. I would disagree with the inclusion of Monterey County as the first map (USDA) designates, although I do not doubt that it is naturalized there now. So, the six Counties I would think it is native to would be Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego and Imperial Counties. However, like I say, I do not know. I can say that it does quite well in the wild here.


              April 25, 2018 at 9:33 PM

              • It seems likely that the historical native distribution will never be fully determined. And of course plants can naturally extend and shrink their ranges over time.

                Steve Schwartzman

                April 25, 2018 at 9:46 PM

                • Of course. There are areas here where the native California poppy had been very profuse within memorable history, but can not be found now.


                  April 25, 2018 at 9:53 PM

  5. Stunning shot! You have to look twice to realise that’s really a flower.


    April 23, 2018 at 3:25 PM

    • Thanks. Cropping the picture, especially circularly rather than rectangularly, adds to the abstraction and probably accounts for your not initially seeing this as a flower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 23, 2018 at 3:41 PM

  6. It works very well. I like being able to see the yellow stamens in detail.


    April 23, 2018 at 4:33 PM

    • Thanks for letting me know you find it works well. The stamens form a yellow globe. It’s not apparent in this view but you can see the globe in a side view like the one at


      Steve Schwartzman

      April 23, 2018 at 4:57 PM

      • Yes, I saw it, it’s beautiful. This wildflower is also present in Florida. I’m hoping to find one soon. The yellow Argemone mexicana seems to be more prevalent here, which leads me to think the ‘albiflora’ might like a hint of cooler weather, so it might be found in the northern part.


        April 24, 2018 at 6:47 AM

        • Your hypothesis has some evidence. The map for ‘albiflora’ at


          shows the species in some northern states, including on Long Island, where I grew up. On the other hand, the map for ‘mexicana’ shows it ranging northward even into Canada.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 24, 2018 at 7:02 AM

          • Apparently, the light green dots of the BONAP map are important and relevant, as they mean ‘Species present and not rare’. The ‘albiflora’ has fewer of these green dots in the southern part of Florida, whereas the ‘mexicana’ has more. Thanks to you, I’m getting the hang of these BONAP maps.


            April 24, 2018 at 7:16 AM

            • The BONAP maps are a good resource for us. Let’s hope they’ll keep getting updated. I’ve occasionally found a species in a county that’s not yet marked for it on the BONAP map or the USDA map.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 24, 2018 at 7:21 AM

              • Now I wonder if in order to get the green dots in the map, the species must undergo a period of ‘prolific blooming’ in certain areas, not just occasional sightings.


                April 24, 2018 at 7:32 AM

                • Maybe you could e-mail the people at BONAP to find out the criteria they use to assign their categories.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 24, 2018 at 7:41 AM

                • They have a huge team of contributors. What’s also really interesting is the category called ‘Species native, but adventive in state’ which is another color in the map. I see the ‘2014’ year, I also hope they continue renewing it every year.


                  April 24, 2018 at 7:58 AM

                • Me too.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 24, 2018 at 8:03 AM

  7. Gorgeous!


    April 23, 2018 at 10:42 PM

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