Papaver nudicaule

Papaver nudicaule (syn. P. miyabeanum,[2][3] P. amurense, and P. macounii), the Iceland poppy,[4] is a boreal flowering plant. Equivalence with Papaver croceum has been contested. Native to subpolar regions of Asia and North America, and the mountains of Central Asia as well as temperate China[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.

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

The Latin specific epithet nudicaule means “with bare stems”.[6]


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[check spelling] flowers and is perhaps the best strain for the cool Pacific Northwest[7] (elsewhere this strain’s buds frequently fail to open).

The dwarf Gartenzwerg group,[8] and the cultivars ‘Solar Fire Orange’[9] and ‘Summer Breeze Orange’[10] have all won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.[11]

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.[12]

Iceland poppies are amongst the best poppies for cutting, as they last for several days in the vase.[13]


The genetics of the garden forms of P. nudicaule have been studied, particularly with respect to flower colour.[14] The white flower colour is dominant with respect to yellow. Other colours, such as buff and orange, are recessive.


All parts of this plant are likely to be poisonous,[15] containing (like all poppies) toxic alkaloids. In particular, P. nudicaule has been shown to contain the benzophenanthidine alkaloid, chelidonine.[16] It also contains (+)-amurine, (-)-amurensinine, (-)-O-methylthalisopavine, (-)-flavinantine and (-)-amurensine.[17]


  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 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  5. ^ "Papaver nudicaule". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  6. ^ Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for Gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. ISBN 978-1845337315.
  7. ^ Sunset Publishing (2001) Sunset Western Garden Book, ed. 7 (Sunset Books Incorporated: ISBN 0-376-03874-8)
  8. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Papaver nudicaule Gartenzwerg Group". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  9. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Papaver nudicaule 'Solar Fire Orange'". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Papaver nudicaule 'Summer Breeze Orange'". RHS. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  11. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 71. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  12. ^ Armitage, Allan M. (2001) Armitage’s Manual of Annuals, Biennials, and Half-Hardy Perennials (Timber Press; ISBN 0-88192-505-5)
  13. ^ "Poppy Primer". Floret Flowers. 2019-12-10. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  14. ^ Fabergé, A.C. (1942) Genetics of the scapiflora section of Papaver 1. The Garden Iceland Poppy. Journal of Genetics 44: 169-193.
  15. ^ Kingsbury, J. M. (1964) Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. pp. 626
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ 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. S2CID 8609245.