Argemone mexicana, Mexican poppy seeds
Argemone mexicana belongs to the family of the Papaveraceae, the poppy family. It is native to Central America, Brasilia, India and the tropical Africa. A. mexicana is also known as Mexican poppy, Mexican prickly poppy or flowering thistle. The Mexican poppy is demand less. It grows even next to sandy roads. This makes it a pioneer plant that grows first in meager areas. A. mexicana is an annual, herbaceous plant that reaches a height of about 1 m. The shoot has spikes. The name Mexican prickly poppy results from that fact. The leaves of the Mexican poppy are emarginated. They are bluish green whereas the venation is white and due to that clearly visible. The leaves tape and so they are as well prickly. The leaves of the Mexican poppy get 20 cm long and 8 cm wide. The flower is actinomorphic, hermaphrodite and brightly yellow in color. The fruit is a pod. If one cuts the pod yellow latex comes out. One should avoid touching this latex. It can cause skin irritation. It is best to wear gloves while working with the plant. The seeds of the Mexican prickly poppy are black. One can gain oil from the seeds. In East India this oil is eaten. In other countries it is mainly used as lamp oil or as axle grease. A. mexicana is poisonous. The plant includes many alkaloids. Especially high concentrations of alkaloids are in the latex. In medicine the latex is used against eye complaint, muscle ache and sleeping disorder. Furthermore it is used to eliminate warts. A. mexicana shall have an aphrodisiac effect if one smokes it. But there are no studies that can prove this hypothesis. The Mexican prickly poppy plays a role in various rituals of the Aztecs. They believe that A. Mexicana is the “nourishment of the Death”. It was often used as burial object. The plant and the seeds should be kept away from kids!
Cultivation of Mexican poppy
The seeds of A. mexicana can be planted into the substrate without any pretreatment. Therefore the seeds should be only covered slightly with substrate. At a temperature of about 21°C and constantly moist substrate, germination occurs after 1 month. The Mexican prickly poppy tolerates drought and prefers a very sunny place.
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