Open the Advanced Search

Atlantic Poppy

Papaver atlanticum

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Papaveraceae (Poppy)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Gardens, roadsides, rocky places, sea cliffs, seaside, walls, wasteland.

Orange, 4 petals
Saucer-shaped, orangish-red flowers. 6cm wide.
The fruit is a capsule.
A clump-forming, short-lived perennial with hairy, pinnately lobed, bluish leaves. The stems are wiry. In the British Isles, the Atlantic Poppy is most common in south and east England.
Other Names:
Atlas Poppy, Moroccan Poppy, Spanish Poppy.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Papaver atlanticum is a species of poppy that is native to coastal regions of Europe and North Africa. It is an annual or biennial plant that grows to be about 30-50 cm tall. The flowers are usually white or pink, and have a distinctive frilly edge around the petals. The plant is not commonly cultivated, but can be found growing wild along coastal cliffs and rocky outcroppings.


The Atlantic Poppy, also known as Papaver atlanticum, is a beautiful and hardy flowering plant native to the Atlantic coast of Europe and North Africa. With its delicate pink to purple blooms, the Atlantic Poppy has become a popular garden plant, admired for its beauty and resilience.


The Atlantic Poppy is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows to a height of 30-50 cm. It has blue-green foliage that is deeply lobed and hairy. The flowers of the Atlantic Poppy are usually pink to purple, but can also be white or red, with a dark blotch at the base of each petal. The blooms can grow to a diameter of 5-7 cm and appear from May to June.

Habitat and Distribution

The Atlantic Poppy is native to the coastal regions of Europe, including the British Isles, France, Spain, and Portugal. It is also found in North Africa, particularly in Morocco and Algeria. The plant prefers well-drained soils and can thrive in full sun to partial shade. It is often found growing on rocky cliffs and in open woodland areas.


The Atlantic Poppy is mainly grown for its ornamental value, as it is a beautiful addition to any garden or flower bed. The plant's hardiness makes it suitable for both novice and experienced gardeners. It is also a popular cut flower, as its blooms can last up to a week in a vase.

In addition to its aesthetic value, the Atlantic Poppy has some medicinal uses. The plant contains alkaloids, which have been used to treat pain, coughs, and insomnia. The alkaloids can also be toxic in large doses, so caution should be taken when using the plant for medicinal purposes.


The Atlantic Poppy is not considered a threatened species, but like many wildflowers, it is under threat from habitat loss and the destruction of natural ecosystems. The best way to preserve the Atlantic Poppy and other wildflowers is to protect their habitats and promote sustainable land use practices.

The Atlantic Poppy is a stunning flowering plant that deserves a place in any garden. Its hardiness, beauty, and medicinal properties make it a valuable addition to both the natural world and human society. We should do our part to protect and preserve this beautiful species for future generations to enjoy.

More Information about the Atlantic Poppy

The Atlantic Poppy has been used in various cultural traditions throughout history. In ancient Greece, the poppy was associated with the goddess Demeter and was used in her religious ceremonies. In Christian symbolism, the poppy was associated with the crucifixion of Jesus, and the red color of the poppy was seen as a reminder of his sacrifice.

The seeds of the Atlantic Poppy are also edible and have been used in traditional cuisine. The seeds are often used as a garnish for bread and other baked goods, and are sometimes ground into a paste to make a type of poppy seed filling.

Growing the Atlantic Poppy is relatively easy, as the plant is hardy and adaptable. It can be grown from seed or propagated by dividing the root ball. The plant prefers well-drained soils and can tolerate drought conditions, but requires some water during its growing season. It is best to plant the Atlantic Poppy in the fall or early spring, as it can be slow to establish and requires a cool, moist period to germinate.

The Atlantic Poppy is not only a popular garden plant, but it also plays an important role in the ecosystem. It is an important food source for bees and other pollinators, helping to maintain biodiversity and support the health of ecosystems.

The plant's seeds are also an important food source for various bird species, including finches and buntings. The Atlantic Poppy is also known to have a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi, which help to improve the plant's ability to absorb nutrients and water from the soil.

The Atlantic Poppy is a member of the Papaveraceae family, which also includes other popular garden plants such as the California Poppy and the Oriental Poppy. However, the Atlantic Poppy has some unique characteristics, including its ability to tolerate salty soils and windy conditions.

In terms of cultivation, the Atlantic Poppy is often grown as a wildflower in meadow gardens or naturalized areas. It can also be grown in containers or mixed with other perennials in a flower bed. The plant's delicate blooms make it an ideal addition to cottage gardens, and it can also be used as a ground cover in rock gardens.

One interesting fact about the Atlantic Poppy is that it has been used as a natural dye. The petals of the flower can be boiled in water to extract a pink or red dye, which has been used for centuries to dye fabrics and wool.

The Atlantic Poppy also has a rich folklore history. In Welsh folklore, the poppy was said to bring good luck and was used in love divination. In Irish folklore, the poppy was believed to protect against evil spirits and was used as a charm for protection.

The plant has also been used in traditional medicine for its sedative properties. The alkaloids found in the plant, such as morphine and codeine, have been used to treat pain, anxiety, and insomnia. However, these alkaloids can also be highly addictive and dangerous when misused.

In terms of conservation efforts, the Atlantic Poppy is not considered endangered, but its natural habitat is under threat due to development and human activities. To preserve this beautiful species, it is important to protect its natural habitats and promote sustainable land use practices. In addition, cultivating the Atlantic Poppy in gardens and public spaces can help raise awareness about the importance of preserving this species and its role in maintaining biodiversity.

Overall, the Atlantic Poppy is a fascinating and valuable plant with a rich cultural and ecological history. It offers beauty, medicinal properties, and ecological benefits, and should be celebrated and protected for generations to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map