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 Papaver subsp. var.  Poppy
Papaver nudicaule dsc00913.jpg
Habit: herbaceous
Height: to
Width: to
10cm120cm 15cm90cm
Height: 10 cm to 120 cm
Width: 15 cm to 90 cm
Lifespan: perennial, annual
Origin: Europe, Asia
Bloom: late spring, early summer, mid summer, late summer
Exposure: sun, part-sun
Water: moist, moderate, dry
Features: flowers, naturalizes, bees
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: °Cwarning.png"°C" is not a number.
USDA Zones: 3 to 10
Sunset Zones:
Flower features: red, orange, yellow, multicolored, pink, white, single, double, spotted
Papaveracae > Papaver var. ,

The genus Papaver is easily recognised and very widespread, it contains around 120 species of annuals and perennials. It also gives its name to the poppy family Papaveracae.

The flower stems, each with usually only one bud, emerge from the basal rosettes of hairy, finely lobed leaves. The flowers usually have four petals surrounding a central ovary that is topped by a stigmatic disc. They come in a great variety of colours, normally shades of red, but yellows, purples and whites are available.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Papaver (old Latin name, from the Greek, of dubious derivation). Papaveraceae. Poppy. Well- known flower-garden plants, of brilliant but short-lived bloom.

Herbs or rarely subshrubs, annual, biennial and perennial, with milky juice, bristly or smooth and often glaucous: lvs. usually lobed or dissected in a pinnate way: peduncles long, single-fld., the bud usually nodding: fls. red, violet, yellow and white; sepals 2; petals usually 1; stamens numerous: ovary and caps, globose, obovate or top-shaped, dehiscing under the vertex by transverse pores between the placentae;, the openings very small and valve-like; this vertex or flattened sometimes conical top or cap represents the combined radiate stigmas; placentae 4 - 20, projecting into the c e n t e r.—Species more than 100, largely in the Medit. region, and the Armenian- Persian region and somewhat eastward, with one in the southern hemisphere; Fedde accepted 99 species in 1909 in Engler's Das Pflan- zenreich, hft. 40 (iv:104) together with many botanical varieties and hybrids. Two or three species are indigenous in W. N. Amer. Opium is made from the milky juice of P. somniferum, which oozes from shallow cuts made in the young capsules. The seeds have no narcotic properties and are sold for bird food under the name of "maw seed." They also produce a valuable oil.

Poppies rank among the most popular flowers in cultivation. From their astonishing range of color, and from the formidable list of names given below, one might suppose their botany to be very complicated. It is, however, easy to understand, although the variation in some of the species is very great. There are only four species commonly cultivated and these are all remarkably distinct. They are (1) the opium poppy, (2) the corn poppy, (3) the Iceland poppy, and (4) the oriental poppy.

1. The opium poppy, P. somniferum, is one of the commonest and the most variable. It is annual, of tall stately habit, and recognized at once by the glaucous hue of its foliage. The flowers are the largest of any of the annual species, but unfortunately they are useless as cut-flowers because they drop their petals so quickly.

2. The corn poppy of Europe, P. Rhoeas, is also an annual, but a dwarfer plant, with green hairy finely cut foliage and smaller flowers. It is brilliant in the fields of Europe, and it has run wild in this country. The Shirley poppies are the best strain of this species; in gardens the flowers last longer than the common P. Rhoeas and the plants are neater when out of bloom.

3. The Iceland poppy, P. nudicaule, is the glory of the arctic regions. It ranges over an immense territory and varies remarkably both in the wild and the garden. Orange, red, and white are the chief colors, besides shades of yellow, but the flowers never attain the brilliant scarlet of the corn poppy. Although the Iceland poppy is perennial, it is short-lived, and is commonly treated as an annual or as a short-lived perennial. It is known for the satiny texture and crimpled character of its petals. The flowers are excellent for cutting, especially if the young flowers are chosen and cut in the early morning, a principle which applies to many flowers often supposed to be useless for home decoration.

4. The oriental poppy, P. orientale, is a longer-lived perennial, and although it has the largest flowers of any species in the genus it has nothing like the fame of the opium poppy. However, it has the double advantage of being easily propagated by either seed or division, and it has a considerable range of color, which is said to be largely due to crosses with P. bracteatum. The latter differs in having large bracts below the flower.

The other species of poppy are for the fancier. The alpine poppy, P. alpinum, was considered by Linnaeus to be a distinct species from the Iceland poppy. However, gradations occur between the typical form of P. nudicaule of the arctic regions and the poppy found in the Alps. The former has a yellow flower, while the common alpine poppy is white. The alpine poppy is by some regarded as an extreme form of P. nudicaule, characterized by a dwarfer habit and more finely divided foliage. For horticultural purposes P. nudicaule and P. alpinum should be considered to be distinct species, as many botanists indeed consider them to be. The Iceland poppy can be easily grown in the border, while the alpine poppy demands rock-garden treatment. The former does best in a moderately rich and light loam, while the latter does better in a rather poor soil. Both need full exposure to the sun, and P. alpinum probably needs better drainage. See No. 20, p. 2459.

The Shirley poppies are now the prevailing forms of P. Rhoeas. The following history of the remarkable race is given by the Rev. W. Wilks in "The Garden," 57, page 385: "In 1880 I noticed in a waste corner of my garden abutting on the fields a patch of the common wild field poppy (Papaver Rhoeas), one solitary flower of which had a very narrow edge of white. This one flower I marked and saved the seed of it alone. Next year, out of perhaps two hundred plants I had four or five on which all the flowers were edged. The best of these were marked and the seed saved, and so for several years, the flowers all the while getting a larger infusion of white to tone down the red until they arrived at quite pale pink and one plant absolutely pure white. I then set myself to change the black central portions of the flowers from black to yellow or white, and having at last fixed a strain with petals varying in color from the brightest scarlet to pure white, with all shades of pink between and all varieties of flakes and edged flowers also, but all having yellow or white stamens, anthers and pollen, and a white base." . . . Mr. Wilks then distributed it. freely to all. "My ideal," he continues, "is to get a yellow P. Rhoeas, and I have already obtained many distinct shades of salmon. The Shirley poppies have thus been obtained simply by selection ana elimination. . . . Let it be noticed that true Shirley poppies (1) are single, (2) always have a white base with (3) yellow or white stamens, anthers and pollen, (4) never have the smallest particle of black about them. Double poppies and poppies with black centers may be greatly admired by some, but they

are not Shirley poppies. It is rather interesting to reflect that the gardens of the-whole world—rich man's and poor man's alike—are today furnished with poppies which are the direct descendants of one single capsule of seed raised in the garden of the Shirley Vicarage so lately as August, 1880."

Hybrids between different species of Papaver are described in the monographs, but they do not appear to have given leading forms for cultivation. Hybrids have been produced between the annual and perennial species. Between the different garden varieties, crossing probably goes on continuously, and new strains are constantly arising.

For garden purposes most poppies are to be treated as annuals for best results, with the exception of P. orientale and P. bracteatum, which the gardener thinks of as one group. The oriental poppy is, in fact, the only common long-lived perennial poppy. The Iceland poppy may live for several years, but after the third year it usually degenerates. It blooms the first year from seed and the best results are usually secured the second year. The cultivation of poppies is very simple, except of course in the case of alpine species, for which special conditions must be provided. Seeds usually germinate readily, but as the young plants of the annual kinds do not transplant well, the seeds should be sown where the plants are to remain. In the Shirley and similar poppies, the plants may be thinned to stand 4 to 6 inches apart. For especially large and fine blooms, the plants should be given at least twice more room. A succession in sowings will provide a greatly extended season of bloom; removing the seed-pods will also extend the blooming-time. Open warm soil in a sunny exposure is preferred for poppies.

P.Heldreichii,Hort.-P.Schinxianum,below.-P.heterophyllum,Greeene-Meconopsis heterophylla-P.Hopkinsii,Hort.Apparently perennial, and described as a particularly good poppy of medium height with deep scarlet fls. on slender graceful sts. Offered abroad. — P. Monetii, Hort. Spontaneous hybrid between P. glaucum and P. Rhoeas. — P. pilose-bracteatum is a garden hybrid, as indicated in the name. — P. Schinzianum, Fedde. Probably a garden hybrid between P. rupifragrum and a species allied to P. lateritium, and which has been cult, as P. Heldreichii: fls. brick-red; petals suborbicular-obovate, to 1 1/4 in. long : caps, obovoid-clavate.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


They are generally very hardy and prefer a sunny position with moist, well-drained soil.


Propagate perennial cultivars from root cuttings, otherwise propagate from seed by sprinkling them over freshly turned soil.

Pests and diseases

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Corn Poppy,(Papaver rhoeas)
Oriental Poppy 'Cedric Morris' (salmon pink), (Papaver orientale)
Papaver nudicaule


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