Plant Profile: Wood Poppy


Scientific Name: Stylophorum diphyllum


Common Names: Celandine Poppy, Wood Poppy
Growing Zone: 4 – 9
Type: Herbaceous Perennial
Sun: Part Shade – Full Shade
Height: 1.00′ – 1.50′
Spread: 0.75′ – 1.00′
Bloom Time: Late March – June
Bloom Color: Yellow
Seed Formation: Late May – June
Foliage Shape: Pinnate, Round Lobes, Deeply Toothed – Leaf Surface Up to 6″ Long (Excluding Petiole) and 4″ Across
Foliage Texture: Upper Surface is Glabrous (Hairless), Light Pubescence on Undersides of Mature Leaves, Petioles up to 4″ Long and Sparsely Hairy
Foliage Color: Medium Blue-Green on Surface, Silvery-Green Underneath
Habit: Low Mounding, Dense Clumps
Root System: Woody Caudex with Coarse Fibrous Roots
Soil: Rich Humus, Woodland, Streambank, Well Draining, Tolerates Lime
Moisture: Medium – Wet (Not Boggy)
Problems: No Serious Pests/Diseases
Wildlife Benefit: Chipmunks & Woodland Mice Eat the Seeds, Ants Aid in Seed Dispersal, Flies & Bees May Visit Blossoms
Miscellaneous: Juglone Tolerant, Flowers Have no Nectar and can be Self-Pollinating

Late June 2020 (Washington, PA) – It has been very dry this month. The bottom leaves are fading and the last blooms have gone to seed. Attractive foliage still remains green on the upper part of the plant in spite of no supplemental watering. It is located on a shady slope under a sugar maple. Though heavy leaf litter holds in moisture, greedy tree roots combined with a slope do not allow much water to remain in this area for long.


  • Reseeds readily, but is generally not considered aggressive.
  • Foliage is unpalatable to most mammalian herbivores including rabbits & deer.
  • Grows moderately quickly. Most seedlings bloom their second year in the wild. Tended plants may bloom their first year.
  • Yellow sap from the stems was once used by Native Americans to create dye.
  • Ants carry the seeds back to their nest and feed the oily elaiosome coating to their larvae. The remaining seed is then taken away and discarded. Thus, effectively planting the seed that may create a new generation of wood poppy. This process is called myrmecochory.
  • Blooms well into summer if supplied enough moisture. Will go dormant in summer heat (or earlier) if conditions are too dry. Under ideal circumstances, vegetation may stay green until September or October.


Wood Poppies emerge before the leaves unfurl on the trees. It is a surprisingly stout perennial and seems unaffected by the cold. Even enduring multiple late season freezes, new growth pushes above the soil.

Large golden yellow flowers can measure 1.5″ – 2″ across. These vibrant blooms each have four bowl-shaped petals that often overlap. Many stamens form a dense, frilly ring around the ovary that gives the blossom a showy look. The flowers can be borne singly or in a small umbel.

Nodding, puffy, ovoid-shaped seed capsules are densely hairy and have four distinct segments. The pods are about 1″ long. When ripe, the capsule splits open and the segments peel back to release the seeds. The seeds themselves are dark with a white elaiosome coat. Each plant may produce up to 2,000 seeds per year.

Helpful Tips & Tricks

  • As this plant tends to go dormant or may look tired during the summer, planting other shade-loving perennials around it is a good idea! Tall ferns, Meadow Rue, or late blooming Asters can hide the fading foliage and still provide year round interest.
  • Deadhead (cut spent flowers) to promote a longer blooming period or to prevent reseeding in a more formal garden design.
  • There is much confusion between Celandine Poppy and the invasive Greater Celandine. Be sure you have the correct plant before you start transplanting them into your garden in early spring! I give this particular advice based on embarrassing personal experience. If you aren’t sure how to tell them apart, here is a helpful resource. I find it easiest to identify them when the flowers are starting to go to seed. Greater Celandine forms very long thin seed pods whereas Celandine Poppy has the plump hairy ones.


These natives enjoy similar growing conditions to Stylophorum diphyllum.

Other yellow flowering plants that are shade tolerant and moisture loving are: Yellow Jewelweed (Impatiens pallida), Golden Groundsel (Packera aurea), and Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

A Final Note

Please do not dig specimens from the wild! Ecosystems can be a delicate thing. If you want to grow Wood Poppy on your own property, you can collect seeds (responsibly), purchase seeds/bare root specimens online, or find potted plants at local native plant nurseries.

Take it With You:
A Way to Remember

With early blooms of sunshine
and fuzzy stems below,
nodding pods

of promise break
so new Wood Poppies

can grow.

Kelly M. Strope


Wood Poppy is Threatened in Canada
COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the Wood-Poppy Stylophorum diphyllum in Canada
Find out more about Stylophorum diphyllum and how it is facing extinction in other parts of the world…

This Week In Anting
Discover the amazing role of ants in the garden…

Carolyn’s Shade Garden
Native Plants in Bloom Part 1
See Wood Poppy and some companion plants in a beautiful garden setting…

Prairie Moon Nursery
Buy Seeds and Bare Root Plants
A trusted source for native plants that comes highly recommended…

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