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Argemone mexicana
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Papaveraceae
Genus: Argemone
Species: A. mexicana
Binomial name
Argemone mexicana

Argemone mexicana (Mexican Poppy, Mexican Prickly Poppy or Cardosanto) is a species of poppy found in Mexico and now widely naturalized in the United States, India and Ethiopia. An annual herb with bright yellow sap, it has been used by the Natives of the western US and parts of Mexico. The seed-pods secrete a pale-yellow latex substance when cut open. This argemone resin contains berberine and protopine, and is used medicinally as a sedative.[citation needed]


Chemical constituents

The seeds contain 22–36% of a pale yellow non-edible oil, called argemone oil or katkar oil, which contains the toxic alkaloids sanguinarine and dihydrosanguinarine.

Toxin rendering

Surprisingly, the seed oil is used to grease the cooking plate to bake the injera in Ethiopia.[citation needed] The seeds resemble the seeds of Brassica nigra (mustard). As a result, mustard can be adulterated by argemone seeds, rendering it poisonous. Several significant instances of katkar poisoning have been reported in India, Fiji, South Africa and other countries.[1] The last major outbreak in India occurred in 1998. 1% adulteration of mustard oil by argemone oil has been shown to cause clinical disease.[2]

Medicinal uses

Argemone mexicana is used by traditional healers in Mali to treat malaria.[3] And, the seed oil itself is used medicinally to treat dropsy, jaundice and skin diseases.[citation needed] Katkar oil poisoning causes epidemic dropsy, with symptoms including extreme swelling, particularly of the legs.

In Tamil it is called "kudiyottup poondu"(Tamil: குடியோட்டிப்பூண்டு) and in Siddha medicines it is widely used to cure, for example, venereal sores, scorpion bite, photophobia ("kan koochcham" in Tamil), leucorrhoea etc. The old Siddha text says in verse form which on translation will read like

"Raw sore, eczema in children, small itch and poisons

Irritating cough, tooth ache and insect bite poisons

Venereal induced rheumatism and copiuos urination Some people have used the leaves of Satyanashi with black-pepper to cure diabetes and got rid of it for ever

With Argemone Mexicana all come to termination"[4]



  1. ^ Anil Aggrawal. "Death by argemone oil". Retrieved 2006-11-17. 
  2. ^ "Epidemic dropsy". WHO South East Asia Regional Office. Retrieved 2006-11-17. 
  3. ^ Willcox ML, Graz B, Falquet J, et al. (2007). "Argemone mexicana decoction for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria". Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 101: 1190–1198. doi:10.1016/j.trstmh.2007.05.017. 
  4. ^ Dr.J.Raamachandran,HERBS OF SIDDHA MEDICINES-The First 3D Book on Herbs, pp.28


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Argemone mexicana subsp. mexicana


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Ordo: Unassigned Eudicots
Ordo: Ranunculales
Familia: Papaveraceae
Subfamiliae: Papaveroideae
Tribus: Papavereae
Genus: Argemone
Species: Argemone mexicana
Subspecies: A. m. subsp. mexicana - A. m. subsp.  ochroleuca


Argemone mexicana L., Sp. Pl. 1: 508. 1753.

Vernacular names


  • Schwarzbach, A.E. and J.W. Kadereit 1999. Phylogeny of prickly poppies, Argemone (Papaveraceae), and the evolution of morphological and alkaloid characters based on ITS rDNA sequence variation. Plant Systematics and Evolution. 218: 257-279.

Data compiled from various sources by Mark W. Skinner. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

  • Species Plantarum 1:508. 1753
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database]. [1]
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Argemone mexicana on Wikimedia Commons.


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