Photo Stories

Desert White Bear Poppy

Desert Poppy, White Bear Poppy

Latin: Arctomecon merriamii

George’s portrait of the White Bear Poppy depicts a graceful flower, reminiscent of a parachute floating through a blue sky.  Though both appear delicate, the Bear Poppy, like a parachute, must hold up to environmental extremes.

You might imagine fields of these beauties ‘dancing’ in a meadow on a gentle breeze.  On the contrary, they bloom under the harsh conditions of rocky slopes and gravel washes in the Mojave Desert, Death Valley, and parts ofNevada.      


The Bear Poppy received its name from the long silvery hairs that cover the flower’s bud.  Rarely seen, it is on the CPNC’s Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants list, 2.2.  Counts of the flower have long been on the decline.  George noted, March 21, 1982, in his much worn copy of  Death Valley Wildflowers, “Only three possibly viable plants in Ash Meadow.  Two years ago more than 100.”


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For more information about endangered plants go to Center for Plant Conservation.