The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mexican Prickly Poppy in Haiti

Mexican Prickly Poppy Argemone mexicana

I returned last night from a week-long eye mission to Haiti where our group, VOSH PA (Volunteer Optometric Service to Humanity) saw about 900 patients. One of the villages wher we stayed was called Jacquesyl and is near the Dominican border in northern Haiti. While in Jacquesyl, I came across an area, near our compound, that had drifts of a yellow poppies with glaucous foliage with sharp edges.

The prickly seed pods and foliage reminded me of a plant called Argemone grandiflora which I grow as an annual in my own garden. Argemone grandiflora has elegant white, papery poppy-type flowers. I was fortunate to collect seeds from a plant while I was visiting the garden of Robert Jakob and David White on Long Island several years ago. It adds a nice texture and provides a note of spontaneity as well as being a reminder of an inspiring garden.

Argemone mexicana is also an annual and is found in Mexico and has naturalized in the United States, India and Ethiopia. It is used medicinally by Seri of Sonora, Mexico to relieve kidney pain. The Spanish settlers used it to treat migraine headaches and the seeds are used as a laxative while healers in Mali use it to treat Malaria. I won't be using for anything other than a punctuation plant in my upper border and a reminder of a country that I have come to love.


  1. It's always nice to have a plant that can remind us of a place (or person) we love.

  2. I agree, Scott. It is one of the best things about gardening.



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