Poppy, Opium

Information on Opium Poppy

Common Name: Opium Poppy
Scientific Name: Papaver somniferum
Irish Name: Codlaidín
Family Group: Papaveraceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Opium Poppy is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

This is a handsome, annual wildflower which grows on both waste and cultivated ground.  It's quite tall, up to 90cm, with blue-green foliage.  Each flower head has 4 silky lilac-coloured petals with dark purple blotches towards the centre of the flower.  These flowers (8-18cm across) are bowl-shaped and solitary on each stem and bloom from June to August after which the seeds are produced in large globular capsules. The leaves are pinnately lobed, large and clasp the stems.  This plant belongs to the Papaveraceae family, is a garden escape and you may also find a double version of the flower.  

This wildflower was first recorded by me in 1976, growing in our own 'garden' in Dalkey, Co Dublin.  I also photographed it there in 2008.  We don't believe in 'weeding' our garden. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

It is the white latex in the stem of this plant which is the source of alkaloids and opium products such as morphine, codeine and heroin.  The seeds are quite safe to eat, contain oils, and are often sprinkled over bagels and other forms of bread.  

There is also a remedy from this plant in our own folklore: 

'Poppy heads made into a poultice will cure neuralgia'.

From the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin. NFC S 455:234  From Co Kerry 

Poppy, Opium
Poppy, Opium
Poppy, Opium
Poppy, Opium