The Opium Poppy FAQ

FAQ :: Papaver Taxonomy

Botanical questions relating to taxonomy of Papaver Somniferum and other poppy varieties.

What is an Opium Poppy?

Papaver Somniferum, aka the Opium Poppy, is a hardy annual that can grow almost anywhere in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. There are many different species of papaveraceae, but none is as prized as the somniferum, for both its beauty and its seeds, which are used in baking and in the production of cooking oil. It is striking in appearance, with stunningly colourful blooms, and stark mournful pods. Its pods are often dried and used in flower arrangements. Papaver Somniferum has also been used medicinally for centuries; as a painkiller, muscle relaxant, diarrhoea remedy, and intoxicant.

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How can I identify a "true" Opium Poppy?

The poppy belongs to a family of plants called "Papaveracea". There are about 200 species that belong to this family of plants. The most famous, naturally, is the species "papaver somniferum" which produces Opium, from which Morphine and Codeine are extracted for use as an analgesic narcotic in the treatment of mild to severe pain.

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What varieties of opium poppies are there?

They are many and all of them beautiful. Deciding which type to grow is up to you, and your environment for growing be it indoors or out, hot and dry or wet and cool.

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