Stylophorum diphyllum (Michx..) Nutt
By Thelma Glover
Celandine poppy, or golden wood poppy as it is also called, is one of our showiest woodland wildflowers. Although it is relatively common in certain parts of the northern United States, it is only found in one location in Georgia. Anyone who has visited "The Pocket" at Pigeon Mountain in late March or early April can remember with awe the incredible colorful, golden drifts of celandine poppies weaving in and out of the islands of spring beauties, bluebells , Hepaticas and all the other harbingers of spring that live in that rich botanical paradise.
Celandine poppy is a member of the Papaveraceae Family. It is the only member of the genus that is native to the United States. The botanical name, Stylophorum, refers to the elongated, distinct style, a feature which is used to separate celandine poppy from Chelidonium majus which is also called celandine poppy or greater celandine. Diphyllum (two leaved) is indicative of the pair of opposite leaves below the flower. Like other members of this family it contains a yellowish-orange sap which was used by Native Americans as dye for baskets, clothes and war paint.
Description: Celandine poppy is a herbaceous perennial growing l2"-24" tall with basal leaves and a few stem leaves that are grayish green and pinnately divided into 5-7 lobes. The showy, bright yellow flowers, either solitary or in a few clustered terminal inflorescence, have 4 petals and numerous stamens. The fruit is a nodding, bristly-hairy, light green capsule which is also very ornamental. In l995, at the DeKalb College Botanical Garden, the first blooms appeared the week of March l6 and peaked by March 25. We logged intermittent blooming through the end of August with a note that foliage was beginning to yellow by October 22.
Culture: Celandine poppy inhabits rich, moist slopes and ravines in lush woodlands from Wisconsin eastward to Pennsylvania and south to Tennessee and northwest Georgia. It responds readily to cultivation if planted in rich, organic soil in high open shade. If the soil is kept reasonably moist, the foliage will remain attractive through fall. Sufficient light will encourage intermittent blooming throughout the summer. It is among the easiest woodland spring wildflowers to grow, self-sowing freely and forming natural drifts if the site is right.
- from divisions: Unlike a lot of perennials, celandine poppies do not need to be rejuvenated by division. However, the large fleshy rhizome containing several buds can be divided. Cut it into sections, including one or two buds per section with one or more roots attached if possible. Dust each section with a fungicide and replant them just below the soil surface. Propagation by this method is usually quite slow.
- from seeds: The seeds of celandine poppy germinate easily if sown fresh when harvested. Like its relative, bloodroot, celandine poppy seeds contain a fleshy aril making them difficult to store. Collect the seeds as they turn brown and sow outdoors in a seedbed that is kept evenly moist. Seeds planted in the fall should germinate the following spring and bloom the second year.
Garden use: Celandine poppy makes a wonderful addition to a shady border or woodland garden. It is at its best in a naturalistic setting where it has sufficient room to form drifts. Plant it in small groups with other early spring bloomers such as Virginia bluebells, bloodroot, Jacob's ladder, bleeding heart and trout lily. It is also a nice companion for ferns, especially lady and maidenhair.
Meadowbrook Nursery, We-Du Natives Niche Gardens Rt. 5, Box 724 1111 Dawson Road Marion, N.C. 28752 Chapel Hill, NC 27516 (704) 738-8300 (919) 967-0078 Fax (919) 967-4026
Georgia Perimeter College Native Plant Botanical Garden
3251 Panthersville Road
Decatur, GA 30034
Jones, S.B. and L.E. Foote, 1990, Gardening With Native Wildflowers, Timber Press, Portland, OR
Sperka, Marie, 1984, Growing Wildflowers,Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, NY
Yank, L., 1995, "Celandine Poppy", Horticulture, LXXIII(5):96