Papaver somniferum – Opium poppy.
Synonyms P. paeoniflorum and P. laciniatum.
Known as the Opium poppy there are now many varieties that contain no opium.
Edible poppy seeds can be obtained from them all and they are better called
Breadseed poppies rather than opium poppies.
Some are used as ornamentals.
An annual herb that grows about 1 m high.
Stems and leaves have a waxy coating giving a greyish appearance.
The stems are smooth with a few scattered hairs.
When damaged all parts exude white latex.
Leaves on the lower part of the stem have short petioles.
Leaves on the upper part are triangular with bases that sheath the stem.
They have irregularly toothed edges.
The smooth surface is light green or blue-grey.
Single flowers are borne at the top of the leafy stems.
They are up to 10 cm across and have 4 petals in white, mauve or red.
There can be dark markings at the base of the petals.
The fruit is a round capsule with 12 to 18 stigmatic rays on the top.
There are dozens of cultivars and varieties with a wide range of all features such
as colours, some are highly double (Peony series), others have frilled petals.
Hybrid flowers can be up to 15 cm wide.
The basal blotches can be black or red.