Papaver somniferum

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 Papaver somniferum subsp. var.  Opium poppy
Habit: herbaceous
Height: to
Width: to
90cm120cm 30cm60cm
Height: 90 cm to 120 cm
Width: 30 cm to 60 cm
Lifespan: annual
Origin: S.E. Europe, E Asia
Bloom: late spring, early summer, mid summer
Exposure: sun, part-sun
Water: moist, moderate
Features: flowers, invasive, bees, cut flowers
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: 7 to 10
Sunset Zones:
Flower features: red, orange, yellow, green, purple, multicolored, pink, white, single, double
Papaveraceae > Papaver somniferum var. ,

Opium poppy, Papaver somniferum var. album, is the species of plant from which opium and poppy seeds are extracted. Opium is the source of many opiates, including morphine, thebaine, codeine, papaverine, and noscapine. The Latin botanical name means, loosely, the "sleep-bringing poppy, white form", referring to the narcotic property of some of these opiates.

The poppy is the only species of Papaveraceae that is an agricultural crop grown on a large scale. Other species, Papaver rhoeas and Papaver argemone, are important agricultural weeds, and may be mistaken for the crop.

The plant itself is also valuable for ornamental purposes, and has been known as the "common garden poppy", referencing all the group of poppy plants.

Poppy seeds of Papaver somniferum are an important food item and the source of poppyseed oil. It is widely grown as an ornamental flower throughout Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.

A red opium poppy flower used for ornamental purposes

Once known as the "common garden poppy", live plants and seeds of the opium poppy are widely sold by seed companies and nurseries in most of the western world, including the United States. Poppies are sought after by gardeners for the vivid coloration of the blooms, the hardiness and reliability of the poppy plants, the exotic chocolate-vegetal fragrance note of some cultivars, and the ease of growing the plants from purchased flats of seedlings or by direct sowing of the seed. Poppy seed pods are also sold for dried flower arrangements.

It has been suggested that, since "opium poppy and poppy straw" are listed in Schedule II of the United States' Controlled Substances Act, a DEA license may be required to grow poppies in ornamental or display gardens. In fact the legal status of strictly ornamental poppy gardens is more nuanced, with destruction of ornamental poppy installations or prosecution of gardeners (except those caught extracting opium via capsule scarification or tea extraction) virtually unheard of.[1] During the early spring, opium poppies will be seen flowering in gardens throughout North America and Europe, with beautiful installations being found in many private planters, as well as public botanical and museum gardens (e.g. United States Botanical Garden, Missouri Botanical Garden, North Carolina Botanical Garden, residential garden, Seattle, WA, and residential garden, Hartford, CT).

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Papaver somniferum, Linn. (P. opilferum, Forsk. P. nigrum, Crantz). Opium Poppy. Fig. 2751. Robust, glaucous and glabrous annual, 3-4 ft. high, with fls. 4-5 in. across, much larger than those of any annual kind: lvs. oblong, unequally toothed at the base; st.-lvs. cordate at the base, sinuate-repand to dentate-serrate, very glaucous, clasping: fl.-bud ovoid-oblong, somewhat obtuse at apex, glabrous; petals orbiculate, entire, undulate or cut, from white through pink and red to purple, but not yellow or blue : caps, globose, glabrous, with a flat 8-12-lobed disk. Greece, Orient.— Sparingly run wild in N. Amer. Very variable in color of seeds, characters of caps., and form and color of petals. Var. album, DC. (P. officinale, Gmel.), has fls. and seeds white: caps, ovate-globose.

Among the double horticultural forms of P. somniferum are two main strains or types, the carnation-fld. and the peony-fld. (the latter P. paeoniaeflorum, Hort.). The former has fringed petals; the latter not. Both include a wide range of color, and even a yellow form has been advertised, but this form is of doubtful authenticity. P. Mursellii is another strain of double fringed kinds, of which Mikado is a favorite. P. fim- briatum is another trade name for double fringed varieties. P. cardinale is the French name of another strain of double fringed fls. Chinese poppies are a double-fld. race intro. from Chinese gardens early in 1890, and comprising dwarfer strains than previously known. R.H. 1893, p. 349. An exceptionally interesting monstrosity has occurred in which there are no petals, and the stamens are supposed to be transformed into pistils which actually ripen seed. It was figured as long ago as 1851 in F.S. 6, p. 242, and again in R.H. 1893, p. 349. It seems to be no longer advertised, but it was considered to be constant.

Among the single varieties, Danebrog is one of the most striking and popular. The white spots at the base of the petals form a cross. This variety is also known as Danish Cross, Danish Flag and Victorian Cross. Of the pure white kinds, Flag of Truce and The Bride are favorites. Mephisto is scarlet, spotted black. About a dozen other varieties are advertised by name. CH

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.



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Papaver somniferum has many sub-species or varieties and cultivars. Colors of the flower vary widely, as do other physical characteristics such as number and shape of petals, number of flowers and fruits, number of seeds, color of seeds, production of morphine, etc.

Papaver somniferum Paeoniflorum Group (sometimes called Papaver paeoniflorum) is a sub-type of opium poppy whose flowers are highly double, and are grown in many colors. Papaver somniferum Laciniatum Group (sometimes called Papaver laciniatum) is a sub-type of opium poppy whose flowers are highly double and deeply lobed, to the point of looking like a ruffly pompon.

A few of the varieties, notably the Norman and Przemko varieties, have low morphine content (less than one percent), but have much higher concentrations of other alkaloids. Most varieties, however, including those most popular for ornamental use or seed production, have a higher morphine content, with the average content being 10%.



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