Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)











Argemone spp.

Photograph from "Photo Atlas of the Vascular Plants, available on the Univ.Wisc. (Madison), Dept. of Botany Web Site)

Papaveraceae are primarily a north temperate, mostly herbaceous family consisting of 23 genera and ca. 240 species. The family is closely related to the Fumariaceae, which is often included within the Papaveraceae. Unique characteristics of the family that separate it from other members of the Ranunculales are a paracarpous gynoecium and the presence of secretory idioblasts or laticifers.

The most commonly accepted classification of Papaveraceae recognizes four subfamilies, the Chelidonioideae (Old World/New World), Eschscholzioideae (New World), Papaveroideae (Old World/New World) and Platystemonoideae (New World). This subdivision is based mainly on gynoecium morphology and indumentum characters. A short summary of the taxonomic history of the Papaveraceae s.l. has been given by Kadereit et al. (1994), who also suggested the inclusion of Platystemonoideae in Papaveroideae. Morphological evolution, ecology and geographical distribution of the family have been discussed by Kadereit et al. (1995). Included below is a phylogenentic tree based on a combination of four data sets (Fig. 1; Hoot et al.)

Figure 1. Phylogenetic analyses of Papaveraceae based on trnK, atpB, rbcL molecular data and morphology. Pteridophyllum was designated as the outgroup. Numbers above lines indicate the number of nucleotide changes supporting each branch. Numbers below the branches are the percentage of times that the branch was recovered in 1000 bootstrap replications. Dotted lines indicate branches that collapse in the strict consensus trees derived from muliple shortest trees.


Kadereit, J.W. 1993. Papaveraceae. Pp 494-506 in The families and genera of vascular plants, eds. K. Kubitzki, J.G. Rohwer, and V. Bittrich. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

Kadereit, J.W. and K.J. Sytsma. 1992. Disassembling Papaver: A restriction site analysis of chloroplast DNA. Nordic Journal of Botany 12: 205 - 217.

Kadereit, J.W., F.R. Blattner, K. Jork, and A. Schwarzbach. 1994. Phylogenetic analysis of the Papaveraceae s.l. (including Fumariaceae, Hypecoaceae, and Pteridophyllum) based on morphological characters. Botanische Jahrbücher für Systematik und Pflanzengeographie 116: 361-390.

Kadereit, J.W., F.R. Blattner, K. Jork, and A. Schwarzbach. 1995. The phylogeny of the Papaveraceae s.l.: Morphological, geographical and ecological implications. In Systematics and Evolution of the Ranunculiflorae, eds. U. Jensen and J.W. Kadereit. Plant Systematics and Evolution (Supplement) 9: 133-145.

Kadereit, J.W, K.B. Jork and A.E. Schwarzbach. 1997. The phylogeny of Papaver s.l.: Polyphyly or monophyly? Plant Systematics and Evolution 204: 75-98.

Hoot, S. B., J. W. Kadereit, F.R. Blattner, K. B. Jork, A. E. Schwarzbach, and P. R. Crane. 1997. Data congruence and phylogeny of the Papaveraceae s. l. based on four data sets: atpB and rbcL sequences, trnK restriction sites, and morphological characters. Systematic Botany 22: 575-590.