Argemone mexicana – Mexican poppy, Mexican prickly poppy, cardo or cardosanto



Spikily leaved poppy plant with yellow flowers. Grows on dry fields and on the roadsides of Mexico; elsewhere it is available as an ornamental plant. It can be cultivated for example on the window sill without any problems.

Use: The unripe seed vessel is scarified and the outflowing latex gathered and dried, then smoked or orally taken. Smoking the dried plant is also possible. A brew can be made from the dried leaves which can be concentrated for smoking or intake.

Active constituents: Allocryptopine, protopine, berberine and isoquiniline, sanguinarine within the seeds.

Effects: Calming, pain-relieving and euphoriant. The seeds have supposedly a mild hallucinogenic effect. In Mexico, the dried latex of Argemone mexicana is used in hospitals officially as a medicament. Reko reports in “Magische Gifte”, that Chinese merchants in Mexico grow “chicalote”, so that they can produce an opium substitute, which they then smoke. Reko furthermore writes that in these chicalote-fields there are always a few opium poppy plants. The crossbred of both species as claimed by Reko, belongs rather, like much that Reko wrote, into the realm of the ethnobotanical fables.

Side Effects: None are known from occasional use. Frequent use can worsen a glaucoma. The seeds and the oil that is obtained from them are very toxic. Cooking oil that is contaminated with such oil leads occasionally to mass poisonings in India, partly leading to death.

Suppliers: Seeds from botanical suppliers, dried herbs from ethnobotanical stores.

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