a plant i’d order: stylophorum diphyllum

I BROUGHT THEM HOME (WITH PERMISSION!) from Wave Hill, the public garden in the Bronx, a couple of decades ago: a few delightfully fuzzy, fat seedpods of celandine poppy from plants that brightened the perimeter of their famed Wild Garden. Stylophorum diphyllum has been a bright, shiny companion ever since in my shady and semi-shady borders, a native American wildflower that animals don’t eat; pests don’t chew, and that doesn’t get diseases.

Stylophorum is a poppy relative, a member of the family Papaveraceae (as the distinctive orange-gold-colored sap will tell you if you break a stem or leaf). This Zone 4-9 self-sowing perennial is native to moist woodlands and stream banks of Eastern and Central North America, growing to a foot to 18 inches tall (the flowers soar above the basal rosette of leaves). Unlike some plants that seed themselves around, this one’s easy to pull out—no nasty rhizomes that stay behind.

The big gold flowers appear mostly in April-May but then repeat all season (unless the plant’s in too dry and hot a spot, when it may even go dormant). Even the foliage is nice: a fresh-looking blue-green and so textural with its beautifully lobed shape, plus undersides that flash with white.

And then there are those seedpods that got me started in the first place with this plant. (The ones in the photo below are just starting to ripen and will fatten up.) Irresistible.

Of Stylophorum’s native range in the central and Eastern U.S., the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center says this:

‘OCCURS IN NATURE from western Pennsylvania north to Wisconsin and Michigan, south to Arkansas, Tennessee, and southwestern Virginia, with isolated populations in northern Alabama and southern Ontario. Because its range is so limited in that province, it is listed as a Species Endangered by Canada’s SARA (Species at Risk Act) and by COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada).’

Their website also notes that chipmunks will eat the seeds–but what DON’T those little devils eat, I ask?

I was interested to read on an Illinois wildflower site that the celandine poppy is found, “in high quality woodlands; it is one of the woodland wildflowers that is threatened by the invasion of Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard),”
 a weed with which I am all too familiar. Though the poppy was never native here, the Alliaria it has taken over lots of shady places that probably used to have other residents).

Speaking of weeds: Celandine poppy to some people’s eye looks a lot like an Asian invader called greater celandine (Chelidonium majus), which is also a member of the poppy family, with smaller, less-showy yellow flowers. Greater celandine is an introduced Eurasian weed commonly seen along roadsides. Learn about telling them apart.

hylomecon-sheets-2Stylophorum overlaps in bloom time with my favorite little choice Asian ephemeral, Hylomecon japonicum (which turns out to be its botanical cousin, and both have gold flowers). Merrybells, or Uvularia grandiflora, and a nearby shrub of Kerria japonica ‘Picta’ add to the gleaming story, as do several clumps of the gold-leaf bleeding heart, Dicentra ‘Gold Heart,’ and the emerging yellow grass called Hakonechloa ‘All Gold’ (above) that are both particularly nice with all these bright flowers.

Remember, spring is all about the gold, isn’t it?

where to buy stylophorum

  1. Barbara Lang says:

    This is prolific at the edges of my hillside. It was here waiting for me 25 years ago. It never fails to come back each Spring.
    One of the boldest wild flowers and most cheerful.

  2. Linda Hoye says:

    This is my new favorite site! You’re my inspiration, Margaret. I’m counting down 20 months until I walk away from corporate life. Meantime your beautiful garden photos sustain me.

  3. Hi there Margaret, Have you looked at the tradesecretsct.com website recently? If you click on Media, photos by Stephanie Stanton are shown. There are a couple of pictures of Martha Stewart with Bunny Williams. Photo #4 is perfect, for you. It looks like an add for your book. I was surprised to be Image #14. Stephanie must have loved my back side, taking my picture looking at the iron pieces offered by Old Farms Nursery. The start of the plant sale season is upon us, next week it is the Berkshire Botanical Gardens two day event. Maybe I will run into you at a garden center, or plant sale in the Berkshires, or CT. Happy Spring Planting ;-}

  4. Linda Pastorino says:

    I just purchased this from the Buck Garden sale in NJ that our club is involved with just last week and planted it.
    I remembered seeing photos of your place with them blooming. I love poppies of all types and this foliage and bud is quite beautiful. It will be interesting to see if it likes it where I sighted it. My May apple that I planted near by is doing well after three years , this year now flowering.. very exciting to see them take hold and thrive! (I also just purchased a plume poppy) someone tried to talk me out of it but I love it seeding around George Schoellkopt’s place and thought it would look great in the gravel garden area. Those are hard to find except in seed.

  5. Lorie says:

    One just has to have a stand of celandines to appreciate that photo!! Yours is splendid!!! Mine is treasured along with its companion stand of Soloman’s Seal and fern friends. My wish is that they weren’t so expensive to mailorder AND that some local nursery would declare hakonekloa to be hardy in the Midwest.
    I used to be the owner of a plume poppy…good luck, and be ready to chase those runners. Another rain/hail/wind/no power event here last night…but the hummers and orioles held on tight.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Lorie. I am infested with 25-year-old plume poppy — cannot get rid of it. Beautiful plant but yikes!

  6. Linda Pastorino says:

    Yes, everyone said to me I’m crazy for introducing it. Made the mistake in first year of gardening not to site petisites correclty ( for me not on property would have been correct) but now I have it running in beds and laws and can not really get rid of it fully.
    Every year I pull them and they keep going. I have a feeling the Plume poppy will do the same… and some day will be pushing people away from it like I am with the petesites.

  7. maryellen says:

    Oooh, I adore this plant too. Just bought one yesterday at Bartram’s Garden’s native plant sale. Can’t wait to pop it into my lil shade garden, nestled among Solomon seal, zizia, golden ragwort, and dicentra. Oh, and some dumb hostas I can’t get rid of. Happy planting everyone!

  8. Lorie says:

    Margaret: You gave a smile to someone who is AGAIN cleaning up after a storm. My plume poppy came compliments of the landscape designer I used to work for. He said it was “amazingly architectural” in the landscape…yeh, right!!! It seemed to be introduced only into “others’ ” landscapes.

  9. Gordon Harris says:

    I hope this yellow poppy isn’t as invasive as the Welsh poppy! I made the mistake of introducing THAT menace when I was beginning my garden, and now, ten years later, I’m still trying to eradicate it!!

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Gordon. You can pull them all out if you wish, and they don’t sow by the thousands like so many poppies do. I have mats of tiny poppy seedlings from some species like the breadseed poppy, P. somniferum. With these, after like 20 years, I can still count them and can edit down the population pretty easily.

  10. Two things I’d share about these freely naturalizing plants is that if you keep them deadheaded they’ll keep blooming, and blooming … But BEWARE ->>>the sap stains and NEVER comes out! If anyone can prove me wrong, I would be MOST grateful to hear about it!

    1. Barbara Sanders says:

      Kari, I just found that our about deadheading them last year. I used to think they were supposed to just bloom in the spring until I started deadheading one plant that I pass by often while in my yard. To my surprise it just kept blooming all summer.

  11. These have volunteered in my garden and I just love them. They are bright suns after a long winter. Apparently chipmunks really love the seeds. I think they have been propagating them for me. How nice.

  12. emily says:

    This blog entry comes at a great time. I just bought my first ever celandine poppy at a native plant sale last week. I’ve got plenty of shade but it’s pretty dry. So I hope the plant does OK.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Emily. Keep it watered especially in the early going, as it acclimates. I do have some that have sown in hotter, drier places than I would expect, but generally they do prefer a little relief from the heat and dry. Enjoy it, and see you again soon.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Sheds. People steal so many plants and seeds and cuttings from public places. Awful! Didn’t want you to think I was among the thieves. :)

  13. Just discovered your fabulous blog and saw this photo: so that’s what I’ve inherited on the east side of our Kentucky cabin-turned-cottage! I thought it was some kind of buttercup but it makes sense that it is in the poppy family. They bloomed well over a month ago here. I’m having fun with plants new and old, grew up on my grandparents’ New Hampshire farm where they had a produce/greenhouse business and raised Toulouse geese for the Boston market. Now happily farming here in south-central Kentucky with my husband and family: cattle, chickens, plants, books. I will return often to your blog and look forward to getting your book. All best, Catherine Pond

    1. margaret says:

      How nice of you to say so, Catherine. And so interesting that you have Stylophorum, too. Loved your wildflower post, thank you (and the whole blog!).

  14. tvland says:

    I’ve had this plant for several years and love it. It multiplies in my garden but not aggressively. I generally just let the volunteers come up wherever they like. They do enjoy afternoon shade and love a good long drink of water. Their happy little faces brighten up shady corners.

  15. Ellen Kirby says:

    My Brooklyn backyard was full of celandine poppy when I moved into my apartment near Prospect Park. I totally loved them and took them for granted as I would pull them up if they crept into unwanted places but they would faithfully come back each spring. When I moved to Winston-Salem NC (also Zone 7) I can usually anticipate one small plant returning. Someday I expect to see them proliferate but not yet. An epidemium I brought does better here than in Brooklyn. The perennial begonia does not do as well here as in Blyn. Just shows that Zone 7 is a wider range than I thought.

  16. Murrie says:

    Oh Wow! So glad you posted this. I found three of these a few days ago in my central NY backyard shade garden while weeding and had no idea what they were. I almost pulled them out, but because they were so beautiful, decided to do some research…and low and behold…here’s a post from you! Wild! Now I’ll be watching for the seed pods! Yay! (and thanks for knowing what to post for me! LOL)

  17. Sharon Leader says:

    I always enjoy your posts! Thanks for information on this new must-have plant! I have Uvularia that is finally multiplying in my garden and two types of Kerria. I also have marsh marigold/Caltha palustris, which is showing up all over. It might be invasive? It isn’t a problem here so far, especially since it goes dormant as soon as the weather warms up. I love the shiny yellow flowers and the dark green leaves. It is known as a marsh plant, growing in damp areas, but it grows well in my dry zone 7 garden.

  18. Bill Plummer says:

    I love it, but it is aggressive. I am endeavoring to keep it out of my woods restricted it to two beds. It is easy to pull up. It blends nicely with Hylomecon japonica and Meconopsis cambric. The Hylomecon spreads vegetatively. Meconopsis is more aggressive, but unwanted plants can be removed.

    I also have S. lanceolatum that has, what else, lance-shaped seed pods. It is much less aggressive.

  19. Becky says:

    I love my celadine poppies. I purchased them from Sunshine Farm and Gardens while visiting that wonderland of hellebores (which, of course, I also purchased) and love that they return and spread each year. I would love for them to take over my hillside and then head to the wooded ravine…a 20 year plan?

  20. Edda Tallard says:

    I know this will sound weird, but Celandine – thanks to a herbalist my mother knew – cured my teenage warts. There is a great deal of Vit. A in the yellow sap – very helpful during my teenage growth spurt.

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