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Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 508. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 9/1/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Status: Introduced


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3. Papaver somniferum L. (common poppy, opium poppy)

Pl. 476 f, g; Map 2177

Sap white. Stems 30–100 cm long, glabrous or nearly so, usually somewhat glaucous. Basal and stem leaves sessile, the blade 15–35 cm long (the stem leaves progressively shorter to the stem or branch tips), often appearing strongly crisped or corrugated, sometimes with a few relatively deep lobes toward the base, but more frequently with coarse, irregular, jagged teeth along the margins, variously narrowly obovate to oblong-obovate or ovate in outline, the stem leaves with rounded auricles at the base clasping the stem, the surfaces glaucous, glabrous or the undersurface occasionally with sparse to moderate bristly hairs along the midvein. Flower stalks 12–25 cm long, sparsely pubescent with relatively long, spreading, broad-based hairs, sometimes only toward the tip. Sepals 18–35 mm long, usually glabrous (rarely with a few spreading hairs near the base), glaucous. Petals 30–60 mm long, white, pink, red, or purple, often with a pronounced dark (less commonly light) spot at the base. Anthers yellow. Stigmatic crown with 8–18 lobes. Fruits 25–60 mm long, broadly obovoid to nearly globose, sometimes longitudinally faintly or finely lined but not ribbed, glabrous, glaucous. 2n=22. May–September.

Introduced, (cultigen of probable origin in Europe or Asia; introduced widely in the Northern hemisphere). Railroads, roadsides, and open, disturbed areas.

Papaver somniferum has a very long history of ethnobotanical use. Currently, it is grown as a garden annual in sunny garden beds (technically, this is illegal, because of the plant’s drug properties). It also is the source of poppy seeds, which are used widely as a flavorant in baked goods and other foods. Poppyseed oil is extracted from the seeds and used both in cooking and as a carrier in oil-based paints. Alkaloids in the sap of this species have strong narcotic properties and are the source of opium and its derivatives, including heroin, morphine, and codeine. Although morphine and codeine have legitimate pharmaceutical uses, the opiates also are the basis of an immense, illegal, international drug trade.



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