Papaver nudicaule ssp. aurantiacum (DC.) Fedde
Perennial, sometimes densely tufted herb, hairy with simple somewhat stiff setose hairs; rootstock scaly or covered with somewhat sheathing leaf bases of older fallen leaves. Scapes 10-40 cm long, 1-flowered usually bristly or densely hairy with whitish to dark brown (rarely blackish), 1.5-2 mm long hairs. Leaves rosulate, radical only, somewhat glaucous, bristly or ciliate, (3-) 5-10 (-15) cm long, (1-) 2-3 (-4.5) cm broad, usually pinnately 3-lobed with stalk about as long or longer than the lamina; lobes usually pinnatifid; terminal lobe somewhat larger than the lateral ones, often 3-lobulate; secondary lobes oblong, short, usually acute, up to 10 mm long and 2(-3) mm broad. Flowers (1.5-) 2-4 (-6) cm in diam., yellowish, orange or reddish-orange (rarely whitish with yellowish base). Flower bud (6-) 8-12 (-14) mm long, 5-8 (-10) mm broad, ovoid-orbicular or suborbicular, densely hairy with dark brown, somewhat stiff and sub-appressed hairs; sepals concave, caducous. Petals obovate to suborbicular (10-) 12-15 (-20) mm long, and usually about as broad. Stamens many; filaments about as long as the ovary, linear; anthers about 2 mm long, oblong. Capsule ± oblong or obovate-oblong to oblong-globose, usually roughly hairy or setose, c. 15 (-20) mm long, 7(-10) mm broad; stigmatic disc about as broad or slightly broader than the capsule, with 8 ridges or rays somewhat channelled and exceeding the disc-circle; setae generally borne on the longitudinal ridges of the capsule wall; pores 8, alternating with the ridges; seeds very small.
Type: Siberia, Herb. Linn. no. 669/5 (LINN).
Distribution: N. & C. Asia, W. Pakistan and Afghanistan; introduced elsewhere.
A very variable species, especially in size and colour of flower. It appears that the smaller plants have smaller leaves and smaller flowers, i.e. the variation is an overall quantitative and separation of taxa on such characters are of doubtful value. Flower colour also varies from pale yellowish to yellow, orange or saffron colour, and this character is also of uncertain taxonomic importance. As a matter of fact, section Scapiflora Rchb., of Kom., Fl. URSS. (reprint ed.) 7: 1963, including some 22 species., needs a critical check up, and perhaps some species of this section are just variants of Papaver nudicaule L., as Popov himself has admitted. The leaf character, pinnatisect with 3 lobes, each lobe often distinctly pinnatifid or pinnatipartite with at least 3 distinct secondary segments, is a fairly constant character throughout the range of the species. Stigmate disc also seem to be a very cosntant character, but the fruit shape is somewhat variable, and the setae seems to be invariably dense on fruits, in our plants.
Popov (in Kom., l.c 603) considered Papaver nudicaule predominantly a central and North Asian species and Papaver croceum primarily Himalo-Altaian and Sino-Japanese. The differences of flower colour (yellow and orange respectively) and leaf segmentation (narrow and somewhat broader respectively) between the 2 species, seem to disintegrate after examining large number of specimens from our area. However, the whole complex needs a thorough study with adequate material from its entire range.