Macleaya cordata
Common Name: plume poppy 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Papaveraceae
Native Range: China, Japan, Taiwan
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 5.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Creamy white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy


Easily grown in moist, sandy, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Full sun is best in cool summer climates, but part afternoon shade is appreciated in hot summer climates. Plants will spread somewhat aggressively by rhizomes in optimum growing conditions. Fertile soils and shade encourage more rapid spread. Propagate by division in spring or by seed. Plants may self-seed in the garden. Deadhead spent flowers to discourage unwanted reseeding. Notwithstanding plant height, staking is usually not required.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Macleaya cordata, commonly called plume poppy, is a vigorous rhizomatous perennial that grows to 5-8’ tall. It is noted for its attractive flower panicles, large scalloped leaves and spreading habit. Branched, airy panicles (to 12” long) of apetalous but showy, creamy white flowers bloom from mid to late summer. Each flower has 24-30 conspicuous stamens. Lobed and scalloped leaves (6-8” long) are light green to olive green above and gray-white beneath. Each leaf is heart-shaped at the base, hence the specific epithet. Stems contain yellow sap. Synonymous with and formerly known as Bocconia cordata.

Genus name honors Alexander Macleay (1767-1848), Colonial Secretary for New South Wales and once Secretary of the Linnean Society of London.

Specific epithet refers to the cordate (heart-shaped) leaves.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Border backgrounds. Specimen. Naturalized areas. Plume poppy is not recommended for small areas or borders where it may spread into other perennials.