The photo above shows a close-up of the flower of prickly poppy. Photographed in Borrego Palm Canyon, Anza-Borrego State Park in southern California..........April 1, 2006. Note the numerous stamens and the prickly fruit peeking out from under the right edge of the petals.
The prickly poppy is also known as chicalote. It is an erect annual or perennial with stout, branched stems from 30-70 cm high. The herbage consists of numerous yellow prickles and it is also covered with coarse bristles. The leaves are oblong to narrowly obovate in shape with the leaf bases sessile or with earlike lobes. The lower leaves may have winged petioles. The leaves are 10-25 cm long with the margins cut into narrow, irregular lobes or segments. The leaf margins and midvein are prickly, and the blades are bristly. When cut, the sap is yellow or rarely red.
The flowers are found in a close, leafy panicle. The 3 sepals are prickly and elliptic in shape and are 2-2.5 cm long. The 6 petals are white, broadly obovate and 4-6 cm long. The 150-250 stamens are grouped into a dense globe-like orb (See photo above.) The fruit is a cylindric capsule from 3.5-5 cm long. The capsule is densely covered with stout, appressed yellow spines.
Prickly poppy is found in arid, sandy climates between the elevations of 70-3000 meters.
Prickly poppy is found from southeastern Oregon south into northern California (except the coast), the Great Basin, central western California and southwestern California into northern Baja California.