I know this is an identification question, but perhaps some botanists with Old World species expertise can weigh in who might not have seen these records. Additional opinions would be welcome.
We’ve seen a proliferation of poppies growing in xeriscaped and bare-ground areas around Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA starting in April 2019 and even moreso this month (April 2020). I’ve lived here for many years and never before seen this species. The flowering seems to be restricted to the spring. There seems to be a lot of disagreement, even among botanists, as to what the species is (although the recent IDs are trending toward a subspecies of P. dubium). Many of us would appreciate some additional opinions, especially since we’ll likely see many new records during the City Nature Challenge. Also wondering if this might be a popular species used in re-seeding projects. Thanks!
Here are a couple of examples:
It seems to come from the Ukraine, maybe you have a homesick Russian or Ukrainian there?
Perhaps so! What’s remarkable is that the species seems to have established widely in the area as a spring “weed” and only recently. If it has escaped cultivation, it did so very quickly and successfully.
The range map shows this plant in a lot of different cities, but it also shows that it appears to be weedy in Virginia outside of the cities. While introduced species that are weedy can be a huge problem, its also very interesting to watch a species come out of nowhere to within a few years growing out of cracks in concrete in every part of the city.
Agreed, it’s interesting to see an “invasion” as it happens. I suspect this species is not much of an invasive threat in my area since it seems to occupy disturbed/developed places where few or no other plants, except introduced mustards and some other weedy species, already occur.
Disturbed ground appeals to poppies
In Flanders field the poppies grow
between the crosses row on row
It certainly seems to prefer disturbed areas, I’ve seen it primarily in weedy gravel or pavement cracks. But I’m not so sure it’s not a threat. It appears to survive just fine in natural areas as well, and it’s been in the Ellena Gallegos open space since at least 2012, and has since been sighted throughout the foothills. It has rapidly spread to the East Mountains, and there are two recent sightings in Sandoval County, including one at Cochiti Lake. At this rate, it’s possible that we’ll be seeing it throughout New Mexico and neighboring states in the coming years. While it may remain most common in cities, it is likely to spread into some natural areas. It may or may not become common enough to do any damage, but I think it’s far too early to confidently claim that it is harmless. (We can’t even yet ID it with total confidence.) I haven’t heard of invasive poppies being environmentally harmful, but if its spread continues, someday soon this Ukrainian poppy may be as ubiquitous a feature of southwestern flora as the Russian thistle.
I suspect that much of its spread is due to human intervention (My first sighting was “wild red poppy” seeds at an Albuquerque seed share). If I’m correct, an information campaign could be effective in slowing its spread.
I’ve been encouraging colleagues and friends to look for it and post photos to iNat so we can track it. As you said, it’s not confined to just the urban/suburban disturbed habitat.
Welcome to the forum! (I know I’m a little late, lol.)
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