Argemone mexicana

Plant Name:
Argemone mexicana

Hawaiian Name: PUA KALA

English Name: Mexican Poppy

Family: Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)

Status in Hawai’i: Alien. Nasty spines.

Where it grows in Hawai’i: Along roadsides and edges of sugar cane fields

Part Used: Whole plant


  • Mexican Poppy is a pandemic (global) plant with a potentially lethal smorgasborg of alkaloids and uses. It is used world-wide as a pain reliever and wart remover.

  • A popular medicinal herb in India where it is known as satyanashi, it is used for cough, asthma, phlegm in the throat, dysentery and rheumatism. It is considered to be a “sister plant” to Datura metel (Jimson Weed)

  • The seeds are expectorant, sedative, and the seed oil is a purgative. They make a good salve for injuries and bruises. The plant is used topically in Peru for muscle aches.

  • Native American tribes used it topically for burns, wounds, hemorrhoids, sore eyes, and for lice. Argemone is a Greek word denoting herbs that are healing to the eyes.

  • Called Chiolote in its native Mexico, it is thought to be sacred to the ancient Aztec rain god Tlaloc who reigns over the legendary Tlalocan “the land of dreams”. Thus Chiolote is also known as “food of the dead”

  • Used in Europe since 1597, Argemone mexicana is known for its treatment of insomnia and as an aphrodisiac. It is sometimes used as a substitute for other illegal plants.

  • Research shows that Mexican Poppy may be useful in treating cancer and certain alkaloids inhibit viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

Cautions: DO NOT USE THIS PLANT. For informational purposes only. Known to seriously aggravate glaucoma. People have died from eating food contaminated with oil from this plant.