The prickly, bluish-green foliage of this decorative and handsome plant is thistlelike both in form and color. The leafy, branching stems, two or three feet high, are covered with dense, white or yellowish prickles and bear several lovely flowers, over three inches across, with delicately crumpled, white petals and beautiful golden centers, composed of numerous yellow stamens, both stem and leaves having a bluish "bloom." The three prickly green sepals each have a spine-like beak and form a queer-looking, three-horned bud; the pistil has a purplish, cap-shaped stigma, with six lobes, and the prickly ovary becomes a very prickly capsule. This grows in dry places and looks very beautiful and striking when we find its fragile flowers waving in the wind against a background of hot desert sand. It varies a good deal in prickliness and in the form both of plant and flower. When there is only one large flower in bloom, surrounded by a circle of prickly buds, it suggests a fairy princess, guarded by a retinue of fierce warriors. The flowers are often quite broad and flat, and then are sometimes given the prosaic name of Fried-eggs.
There are many kinds of Papaver; with milky juice, leaves lobed or cut, nodding flower buds, showy regular flowers, with two or three sepals and four to six petals. The stigmas are united to form a disk with rays and the fruit is a round or oblong capsule, opening near the top. Both the Latin and common name, Poppy, are ancient. Opium is made from P. somniferum of the Mediterranean.
Thistle Poppy-Argemone hispida. POPPY FAMILY. Papaveraceae.