California Gardens - The Year Round Gardening Site

Papaver somniferum - Opium Poppy

Papaver somniferum is stately and regal, as well as potentially poisonous if eaten by the uninformed child or pet. The Opium Poppy can grow to 4 feet or more tall. Flowers are huge and come in a wide variety of colors and petal count. The Papaver somniferum species starts with 4 red petals each with a dark spot near the middle of the flower. With lots of breeding white flowers, purple flowers, pink and black are all possible. Lacy frilled petal margins and fully ruffled double flowers are available too. The range of colors and textures for one species is pretty amazing. Papaver somniferum was grown commonly in gardens up through WW II. The Opium Poppy is the same plant that is used to make both Heroin and the Poppy Seeds that you might find for your bread or bagel. Papaver somniferum grows well in our climate and is not uncommon as an escaped plant growing in the wild, usually in areas where the soil has been disturbed. Papaver somniferum blooms from Spring into Summer if a modicum of supplimental water is provided.

Papaver somniferum, Opium Poppy, Poppy Seeds

Purple flowered variety of Papaver somniferum. High resolution photos are part of our garden image collection.