I may earn commissions if you shop through the affiliate links on this page. These links help support this website and keeps the content free. Thank you for your support!
ssp. alaskanum (Hultén) J.P. Anderson
Papaver alaskanum – Alaska poppy (subspecies)
Subspecies: Papaver alaskanum
Species: Papaver radicatum
Genus: Papaver L. (poppy)
Uses: Red dyes can be made from the flowers. The whole plant is somewhat toxic to mammals, containing alkaloids. But some sources say the leaves of a similar species, Papaver nudicaule (arctic poppy), can be eaten cooked.
Identification – Rooted Poppy
The Alaska poppy is about 13-30 cm (5-12 in) tall plant with dense, lanceolate, basal leaves. The leaves are about 10 cm (4 inches) in length. Stems are long, sometimes curved scapes and singular flowered. There are often one to five stems and flowers per plant, although there can be more. The flowers are yellow, with four petals 6-7 cm (2-2.5 in) in diameter. It has a round, conic seed pod, and numerous sepals. Flies are often seen pollinating the flowers.
Distribution and Habitat
Papaver radicatum is widely distributed across Alaska, most of the arctic including Greenland, Europe, and Asia. It lives in rocky or gravelly well-drained soil and alpine environments.
Subspecies and Similar Species
The subspecies Papaver alaskanum is found only in Alaska, typically along the Aleutian Chain, Bering Sea, Alaska Peninsula, and Bristol Bay. Papaver alaskanum is distinguished from Papaver radicatum mainly by its narrower and longer seed capsule. Another similar, but more rare species is Papaver mcconnellii, often found in higher altitudes in the Alaska Range and Denali National Park, and can be found in the NWT and Yukon. Papaver mcconnellii is smaller (15 cm stem) may have yellow or white petals with a yellow basal spot. Papaver lapponicum is smaller with smaller flowers (also alpine), and Papaver macounii has larger flowers. Verna Pratt also mentions the Iceland poppy Papaver nudicaule that has been introduced by Department of Transportation along roadsides.
Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 28
Papaver radicatum ssp. alaskanum (Hultén) J.P. Anderson, ITIS database
Papaver radicatum Rottb. ssp. alaskanum (Hultén) J.P. Anderson
rooted poppy, USDA database
8b. Papaver radicatum subsp. alaskanum (Hultén) J. P. Anderson, Fl. Alaska. 244, fig. 517. 1959., Flora of North America www.eFloras.org
Papaver alaskanum, JSTOR – Global Plants
Papaver mcconnellii Hultén, Fl. Alaska Yukon. 5: 803, fig. 1. 1945., Flora of North America www.eFloras.org