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Las Vegas Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
Perennial Forbs Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)

General: California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica), also called Las Vegas Bearpoppy, is a perennial forb that only grows in gypsum-rich soils. The hairy, silvery-gray leaves grow in a clump at the base of the plant, and the large, yellow, poppy flowers grow atop long stems.

California Bearpoppy occur in eroded, gypsum-rich soils in the Las Vegas Valley and near Lake Mead, which is in the Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub) life zone. These plants can most easily be seen along Northshore Road (Lake Mead NRA). They also occur in the Gold Butte region and along the south side of Lake Mead near Bonelli Landing (towards Temple Bar).

California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica) leaves
Hairy, lobed Bearpaw Poppy leaves

Family: Poppy (Papaveraceae).

Other Names: Las Vegas Bearpoppy, Las Vegas bear poppy, California bear poppy.

Plant Form: Basal clump of leaves with several flower stalks.

Height: Leaf clump to about 5 inches; flower stalk to about 20 inches.

Stems: None (not counting the flower stalk); grows from a taproot.

California (Las Vegas) Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
Yellow flower with many stamens

Leaves: Blue-gray, wedge-shaped, to about 6-inches long by 1-inch wide; the end of the leaf (the widest part) is notched, resembling a hairy, 3 to 5-toed bearpaw. Densely covered with long, white hairs.

Flowers: Blooms March to May. Flower stems several per plant; branched. Flowers: Large, yellow, 6 petals.

Seeds: Fruits: Oval seed pod that matures and opens before the end of June. Seeds: tiny, black, numerous.

Habitat: Restricted to eroded, gypsum-rich soils (gypsum content of 36 to 69%) near Lake Mead. Referred to at the “Gypsum Barren Community.”

California (Las Vegas) Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
Seed pods with black tip

Elevation: 1,200 to 3,150 feet

Distribution: This species is endemic to the Lake Mead region of southeastern Clark County, Nevada. It can be found near Lake Mead in gypsum-rich soils.

Comments: This species has been considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act and is protected -- don't pick or otherwise disturb bearpaw poppies!

California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica) along highway An annoying habit of Bearpaw Poppies, a rare and protected plant, is that it grows in disturbed habitats, such as this roadcut along Interstate-15. This can cause problems for road maintenance crews and other landowners.
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
Typical habitat at Lake Mead
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
Typical habitat at Lake Mead
California (Las Vegas) Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
Typical habitat on gypsum soil in association with Palmer's Phacelia
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
Very large plant in rocky during winter
California (Las Vegas) Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica) California (Las Vegas) Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica) California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica) California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica) California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica) California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica) California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica) California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
Poppies on red soils
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
Large plant during winter
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica) California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
California Bearpoppy: just a mound of hairy leaves
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
Very large plant during winter
California Bearpoppy (Arctomecon californica)
Bearpaw Poppy during winter
more to come ...

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Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 130112

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