Pale poppy is a small alpine herb of slide rock and gravelly sites, white or pale-pink flowered, with a cluster of cleft basal leaves. The stems are flexuose, up to 15 cm high, from a branching caudex often beset with persistent leaf bases. Leaves are gray-green, pinnate in three leaflets, each leaflet 2-5 lobed. The leaf blades are white-bristly on both sides. Flowering stalks are leafless. Each plant has one to a few stalks, producing a single flower at the top of the stem. When in bud, the flower is covered by two light-haired sepals. The two sepals are shed once the flower opens. Flowers have four petals, white to rose-pink, yellow at the center. The petals are broader at the apex and blunt-tipped. Within the petals there are 10+ anthers and a stigma disk with five or six yellow lobes. The fruit of pale poppy is a dry capsule with light-colored, stiff hairs. The capsules are ovate to globose, stiff-bristled, and longer than they are broad. The capsules open at the top by many pores to release numerous tiny seeds. Almost all other poppies in Denali are yellow-flowered, and have capsules with dark-colored hairs. Consider yourself lucky if you've found this species – it's a rare and distinctive plant in Alaska.
Papaver alboroseum is a perennial deciduous plant that flowers early in the season.
Poppies are monoecious with bisexual flowers. Flowers are insect pollinated. Poppy species are typically self-incompatible, but Papaver alboroseum has not been studied. Seeds are minute and wind-dispersed. Plants do not spread vegetatively.
Pale poppy is an amphi-Beringian endemic species that occurs in mountains on both sides of the Bering Strait. This species occurs in the mountains of southcentral Alaska, reaching its northern range limit in Denali. Four localities are known from Denali, all within 100 km of each other in the eastern side of the Park. Two sites are on the north side of the Alaska Range, two are on the south.
Pale poppy is an alpine species. The four specimens were found from 1180 to 1466 m. All the plants were on steep slopes, of 15 to 32 degree inclines. There did not seem to be a preference for a particular aspect.