Papaver somniferum (Papaveraceae)
The flowers vary substantially in physical appearance; they are occasionally double, often single with flimsy coloured petals — occasionally white or pink. When the buds open up the petals are like crumpled tissue paper which very rapidly unfold; this is usually a feature of the flower. The plant attains perhaps 1 m (3 ft) in length, the green/greyish leaves sitting directly upon the stem and kept away from, with ragged undulating edges.
Opium was initially a medicine known to the Greeks and Romans and the Egyptians previous to them, and the farming associated with the poppy spread to China more than a millenium past. Poppies had been taken as seed to America by the Pilgrims.
Native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean rim countries, the bluish flowers have always been a roadside characteristic of several southern counties of England.
Although Opium is a dangerous as well as addictive toxin it remains unsurpassed as a botanical sedative administered for the purpose of the alleviation of serious pain – a result of its pair of significant alkaloids, morphine and codeine.
Once the petals fall the seed head matures into the well known smooth brownish ‘poppy head’ together with its crown of radiating ribs as well as little holes around the top via which the seeds leak out. Green poppy heads were steeped to bathe inflamed and sprained joints, and a concoction made using hot barley meal as a fixing medium was used in related circumstances to alleviate suffering.
There tend to be numerous types of poppy seed; the blue-grey little circular ones are usually used in European countries and America in order to decorate and flavour breads and confectionery, and the smaller creamy ones are used in India in curries. Poppy seed oil, though a culinary oil, is frequently created for the commercial market and in the blending of paints.
Propagate from seed sown in spring, although when launched straight into the your herb garden these plants will seed themselves. Lovers of sunshine, light warm soils the opium poppy ought be in every single representative collection of medicinal herbs.