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Home / Private Collections / Starz / Science / Plants / UK Wild Flowers / Wild Plants - May / Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum)
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Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum)


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A very upright plant with bluish broad leaves that have shallow teeth and short stalks. The flowers are very big (up to 18cm). The petals are lilac/pink with dark markings at the base. The big globe-shaped capsule has a fluted top. This plant was once widely cultivated for its seeds (which are not narcotic) but are baked into bread and cakes particularly in central Europe. They are also crushed for oil for salad dressings and have been used in lamp oils, paints, varnish and soaps. Plants found in Britain today are usually remnants from old cultivation (as this one probably is) or if near a dwelling a garden escape, as the large flowers make them popular as garden ornamental plants. Its latin name comes from the word sleep and opium and codeine can be extracted from some plants, although the variety used for making narcotics is found very rarely in Britain. Picture taken near Stevington, Bedfordshire June 24th 2006.

26th Aug 2007 by Diane Earl

Biology, Science

Key Stages:
Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 4+

plant flower cultivate garden wild seed medicine food botany cook

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