PAPAVER somniferum

Opium Poppy



Height: 2-4' (60-120cm)
Flowering Time: Summer
Flower Colour: White, pink, red, mauve, purple

Botanical Classification:


Angiospermae (Angiosperms)
Subclass: Dicotyledonae (Dicotyledons)
Superorder: Magnoliidae (Magnolia Superorder)
Order: Papaverales (Poppy Order)
Family: Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)
Genus: Papaver (Poppy)
Species: somniferum (inducing sleep)
Papaver somniferum

Papaver somniferum is probably the best-known poppy in the world, because it is the source of the drug heroin, and it is illegal to grow it in the United States, although, happily for many gardeners, this law is not usually enforced. It is also the source of the medicinal drug morphine, and the seeds (which do not contain any narcotic) of one variety are eaten as decoration on bread and cakes.

The plant itself is an annual, with grey-green crinkly leaves and a slighty hairy stem, reaching a height of anything between 1' to 4',and the single, mauve, form is sometimes found in the wild as a garden escape. Hybrids have been developed for garden ornament in all shades of pink, red, mauve, purple, and white, many of them with several layers of petals.

Like most poppies, it is happy in almost any situation, and is a good plant for dry sites and poor soil.

This Plant is POISONOUS


Harvesting and Growing from Seed:


Any time of year
Inside or Propagator
(4-16 days)

Seed Pod The seed pod is the familiar 'pepper-pot' with a peaked lid, with holes opening round the
top edge of the pod when the seeds are ripe.

Seed The seeds are small dark brown commas, looking like balls. There are very many seeds
in a seedpod.

Seedling The seedling has fleshy, crinkled, bluish leaves.

(You can check the meaning of any technical terms new to you in the Botany section of the site)

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