Thursday, September 17, 2009

Poppymallow - Callirhoe papaver

Poppymallow (Callirhoe papaver) is a rather rare, but beautiful wildflower native to dry open hammocks in Alachua County and three counties of the central panhandle. Nationwide, it is found scattered across the southeast into Texas and in states just to the north of us.

As its name suggests, poppymallow is a member of the mallow family and is related to the hibiscus, saltmarsh mallow, and wild cotton. Its flowers look a bit like those of the oriental poppy, but true poppies are in a family quite different from the mallows.

Although rare in Florida, poppymallow is not a difficult plant to grow - or to propagate. This is a tough plant, so take care not to baby it. Plant poppymallow where it will get a high amount of light and in soils with good drainage. We grow ours in an area that gets direct sunlight for nearly 3/4'ths of the day, and they have prospered. During periods of extreme drought, we water ours a bit, but they have outlasted a number of other wildflowers native to our county that are also supposed to be drought tolerant.

Poppymallow is perennial, but deciduous in the winter months. Plants develop deep taproots designed to provide them with their drought tolerance. The lobed leaves arise on long stems that may be several feet long and they lay prostrate on the ground. In the spring and early summer, flower buds are formed in succession. Poppymallow produces solitary blooms of a rich wine color. Each flower is 2-3 inches across and lasts for just a few days.

Grow popymallow for the wonderful flowers which provide a wildflower garden with a color truly unique to the species. They are not particularly interesting to butterflies, but attract a variety of bees in our gardens. Pollinated flowers produce a good number of seeds which can be planted and grown to add more plants to your garden.

We have been growing this beautiful wildflower now for several years and try to keep a few dozen seedlings in stock each year.  If you are looking for this species, and can't find it elsewhere, we may have a few here at Hawthorn Hill.


  1. Thank you! Just bought a poppy mallow at a wild flowers event. I live in Volusia county, so I am hoping it does well here (the seller assured me it would). Information was what I needed.

    I also purchased a roselle plant that is different from mu other ones - it is a burgandyish color. am off to search for that info!

  2. Hi - I was glad to see this post. I have had a single flower pop up for several years in a row, then 2 or 3, and this year, I have quite a few of these poppy mallows. I didn't know what they were until today, when I found them in a Florida wild flower book, then found your blog to confirm. It was great to get more information, and learn that I have a somewhat rare plant growing as a volunteer and thriving. I'm going to try to transplant some and collect seeds for future planting.

  3. Hello,

    I was also glad to find this posting. PLEASE PLEASE help me understand how to collect the seeds. I am struggling to find good information.

    Kind Regards,

  4. Amy (or anyone else)-
    Call me if you have a detailed question to ask. I have written a bit on this in my wildflower book, published by UPF, but would be ahppy to answer questions like this in more detail - (727) 422-6583. Different plants require different strategies when it comes to seed and most of what I know has come from trial and error over 25 years of messing around and experimenting.


Please let me know if this site and the various postings have been useful to you.