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Papaver somniferum

Pronunciation: Pa-pah-ver som-nee-fer-um
Family: Papaveraceae (poppy family)
Common Name: Opium poppy, bread poppy
Plant Type:
  • annual
Height to: 3'-4'
Width to: 12"
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • Not apply
Sun Exposure:
  • full sun
Bloom Season:
  • late spring
Bloom Description: Opium poppy starts out life as a basal rosette of leaves that looks a little like a tiny cabbage or collard plant. In late spring it sends up a leafy stalk with a single nodding bud which soon turns itself upright and opens into a bowl shaped flower up to 4 in (10 cm) across. Flowers come in red, white, pink, purple or mauve, and are usually double. Large bluish green seed pods follow the short-lived blooms.
Soil Type: Will thrive in almost any moderately well drained soil.
Plant Perks:
  • Medicinal
  • Easy to Grow/Ideal for Children
  • Cut Flower
Propagation: Sow seeds in early spring a few weeks before the last expected frost. Sow them in place, where you want them to grow. Many opium poppy selections will reseed themselves. Here in our north florida garden we usually wind up moving some of the little seedlings around to where we want them to grow. Do this carefully and water well for a few days after the move.
Native to: Southeastern europe and western asia, the opium poppy is cultivated in many parts of the world as the source for the analgesics, codeine and morphine; and the illegal narcotics, heroin and opium. It is a popular old timey ornamental in europe and america, and its seeds are often shared among gardeners. Opium poppy has escaped cultivation and grows wild in parts of england, continental europe and america.
Notes for Identification: Poppies are usually used as bedding flowers. The strikingly beautiful flowers of the opium poppy are at their best in mixed borders and beds. The flowers are great as cut flowers; they'll last longer if you cauterize the cut stem before placing in water. This is the poppy from which we get opium and its many derivatives. Raw opium is derived from the milky sap that exudes from the green seed capsules when they are cut. The capsules turn brown when they ripen, and the dry seed is used for breads and other baked goods. The curious looking seed capsules are good in dried arrangements, too. Featuresthere are some 70 species of poppies. Most hail from temperate asia and europe, but there are a few species from north america, australia, south africa and the subarctic region. Oriental poppy (p. Orientale), arctic poppy (papaver croceum), and corn poppy (p. Rhoeas) are common in cultivation. California poppy (eschscholzia californica) is in the same family, but a different genus. Since opium poppy is the source of the illegal narcotic, not all nurseries offer the seed. Many of our most beautiful garden varieties are hybrids of this species with the oriental poppy and others listed above. warning although poppy seeds are edible, they do contain trace amounts of alkaloids that may cause drug tests to show positive for opiates. All other parts of this pretty poppy are toxic - do not ingest.      
USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • Less then 1 day ZONE 1
  • 1 to 7 days ZONE 2
  • 7 to 14 days ZONE 3
  • 14 to 30 days ZONE 4
  • 30 to 45 days ZONE 5
  • 45 to 60 days ZONE 6
  • 60 to 90 days ZONE 7
  • 90 to 120 days ZONE 8
Seed photo: 0
Seed Label: 0
Located in: Seed Photos
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