Dwarf Bear-poppy / Center For Plant Conservation
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Plant Profile

Dwarf Bear-poppy (Arctomecon humilis)

Arctomecon humilis in flower Photo Credit: Daniela Roth
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Papaveraceae
  • State: UT
  • Nature Serve ID: 159159
  • Lifeform: Forb/herb
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/06/1993

This species of poppy is one of the rarest in the world, and was in fact one of the first species in the United States to be listed as federally endangered in 1979. Today, this species exists in only seven small locations outside of St. George, Utah, a city with a rapidly growing population. This suburban growth is one of the major threats to the species, but botanists have been so far successful in maintaining this species in the wild. In 1998, The Nature Conservancy was able to purchase a small parcel of land that contained most of one of these seven remaining populations, thus saving it from a new housing development. While this is a success story, the threats to the species continue because this population, and many of the other remaining populations, are now surrounded by development. One of the key factors in saving this species from extinction will be educating the public of the plight of this and other species, motivating individuals to aid in conservation efforts. The flowers of this gorgeous poppy plant have four petals that are often crumpled. Seeds germinate in the Spring, depending on rainfall. Seeds are produced in capsules and are dropped from the plant when they are still immature. Maturity may take several years in the soil. Seeds are dispersed by ants. One population of poppies has been found to harbor three new and undescribed chemicals of medicinal value.

Where is Dwarf Bear-poppy (Arctomecon humilis) located in the wild?


These plants are found in warm desert shrub communities. They exist only in the gypsum rich soils on the Shnabkaib, Middle Red, Upper Red, and Shinarump members of the Moenkopi Formation, between elevations of 2700 and 3300 feet.


Washington County, Utah

States & Provinces:

Dwarf Bear-poppy can be found in Utah

Which CPC Partners conserve Dwarf Bear-poppy (Arctomecon humilis)?

CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Conservation Actions

Tina Stanley
  • 01/08/2024
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Red Butte Garden has sent at least 7,000 wild-collected seeds of Arctomecon humilis to the USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation for long term storage.

Tina Stanley
  • 01/08/2024
  • Seed Collection Orthodox Seed Banking

Between 1975 and 2013, Red Butte Garden staff made 42 wild seed collections representing more than 21,000 seeds from 187 individuals of Arctomecon humilis. 11,500 of these seeds are held in long term storage at Red Butte Garden.

  • 08/18/2020
  • Reproductive Research Demographic Research

Harper et al. (2000) have studied the demographics and reproductive biology of the species

  • 08/18/2020
  • Genetic Research

Allphin et al. (1998) have studied the populations genetics of this species, which will aid in its conservation.

  • 08/18/2020
  • Tissue Culture Propagation Research

Red Butte Garden is conducting research on seed propagation and tissue culture.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Narrowly endemic to Washington County, Utah. Known from 11 traditionally accepted concentrations of plants (but some have only human-made obstacles, some unoccupied habitat, or widely scattered individuals forming the separation between them; there are perhaps 7 or 9 distinct locations). The species' habitat is in an area of rapid population growth and expansion and the low, barren hills on which it grows are sought after by off-road vehicle users. Gypsum mining and low gene flow are also threats.

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

Road construction Off-road vehicles Rapid expansion of a nearby retirement community, as well as general suburban growth Development of an airport Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1985

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

The population has dwindled to just 7 small locations east and south of St. George. (Smith 1998)

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

The bearclaw poppy is monitored on an annual basis by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Red Butte Garden is conducting research on seed propagation and tissue culture. Allphin et al. (1998) have studied the populations genetics of this species, which will aid in its conservation. Harper et al. (2000) have studied the demographics and reproductive biology of the species.

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

One population of the poppy is managed by The Nature Conservancy, while the other populations are mostly found on BLM land. (Smith 1998)

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

Continued monitoring of populations is important to understand long-term fluctuations in population size. Pollinators must be protected to insure adequate outcrossing. The BLM must continue to monitor off-road vehicle use in poppy habitat.

Sylvia Torti
  • 01/01/2010

Development of propagation protocols is imperative to this species survival. Moreover, propagated plants must be successfully transplanted back into native habitat.


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Taxon Arctomecon humilis
Authority Coville
Family Papaveraceae
CPC Number 205
ITIS 18900
Duration Perennial
Common Names Colville bearclaw poppy | dwarf bearclaw poppy | dwarf bear-poppy | dwarf bearpoppy | common bearpoppy | dwarf bear poppy
Associated Scientific Names Arctomecon humilis
Distribution Washington County, Utah
State Rank
State State Rank
Utah S1
Ecological Relationships

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Honey bees Apis mellifera Confirmed Pollinator Link
Long-horned bees Eucera quadricincta Confirmed Pollinator Link
Bees Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Sweat bees Lasioglossum alum Confirmed Pollinator Link
Sweat bees Lasioglossum hyalinum Confirmed Pollinator Link
Sweat bees Lasioglossum sisymbrii Confirmed Pollinator Link
Mining bees Perdita meconis Confirmed Pollinator Link
Mining bees Perdita mohavensis Confirmed Pollinator Link

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