I happened to glance at this news photo http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/020410/168/1dlpy.html the other day and it struck me that the poppies in the picture looked remarkably like the poppies (red and white with frilly petals) that I saw in a neighbor’s yard last year.

Is there an easy way to tell the difference between an opium poppy and the ornamental kind, just by looking at the plants?

There would be, if there was a difference.

Mangetout, can you expand on this?

I guess I thought that most garden poppies were papaver rhoeas.

Is papaver rhoeas so different from papaver somniferum (the opium poppy) that I couldn’t have confused the two?

Or are you saying that papaver rhoeas is just as capable of producing opium as papaver somniferum?

From the looks of whats available on eSeeds, there are several varieties of papaver somniferum available to the home gardener.

You’re right that most ornamental poppies are a different species, but they do look similar. From what I’ve seen, the opium poppy is considerably larger and taller than others. I’ve noticed in newspaper pictures where they show opium poppies being harvested, the plants come up to the workers’ chests; other poppies seem to be only about knee high if that. Growing opium poppies is illegal in the U.S., even if it’s only a few in a garden; nevertheless, a couple of years ago, one of the mainstream gardening magazines had a long article about planting and tending opium poppies, which also can be very beautiful as ornamental plants. Also a DEA official said they probably wouldn’t bother someone who had a few in a home garden, here, but one should still remember that they’re illegal to grow.

Opium poppies are quite widely grown as ornamentals here in the UK.

I would like to grow cannabis ornamentally in my garden (no, really; I have no interest in ‘using’ it), but I think it would be asking for trouble. I suppose ordinary Hemp would be just as attractive.

At US ebay.com has the seeds & legally sold, too. Which I thought was kinda odd.

The nice blue raw poppy seeds you can get from a natural food store in the US produce
mighty attractive flowers.

Even the California poppy has traces of opium,right?

All poppies have traces of morphine in them. The latex they exude contains it. I thought, however, that you could be in posession of germinated poppies, but that if the seed pod is cut, they become illegal. Maybe I have just been smoking crack. Papaver Somniferum was planted all around Washington state in the early part of the 19th century. They tried to destroy them, but every year, there are poppies growing in the wild.

The papaver somniferum plants have different foliage than the rhoeas poppies (round here we call them shirley poppies), it is almost a blue green, and smoother than the rhoeas foliage. I think it is legal to grow these poppies in the US, but illegal to buy or sell the seeds - go figure. As for California poppies, I don’t think they have any opiates in them, same with the shirley poppies.

I guess I should point out the link to the article that Cecil wrote on poppies: http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a5_116.html in which he states:

This does make me wonder: Is America entirely dependent on foreign suppliers for our poppy seeds? Why are we worrying about Iraq cutting off a small percentage of our oil when the threat of a bagel and muffin crisis looms so much larger? :slight_smile:

On a more serious note, does anybody have a link to a picture that shows P. somniferum next to P. rhoeas?

I wish I could find the article/book that I read this in, but there’s a guy by the name of Duke who has done a lot of research for the USDA, and other government agencies on medicinal plants. Anyway, he relates the story of how he was going into some Federal law enforcement building (like the DEA or FBI) to give a lecture on plants that could be used as recreational pharmicuticals and he spotted in the flower garden in front of the place some Papaver Somniferum poppies mixed in with the papaver rhoeas poppies. According to him, the two are pretty close in appearance and its pretty common for them to get planted by ordinary folks. I should point out that he didn’t bother to tell the Feds they had some illegal plants growing right out front. :cool:

Papaver Rhoeas is the red poppy that is so common in cornfields - it is very different in appearance from opium poppies.

Google is quite good for finding images; try a google search of Papaver Rhoeas and then click the ‘images’ tab.

Papaver paeoniflorum is just a synonym for some of the garden varieties of Somniferum IIRC.

“I think it is legal to grow these poppies in the US, but illegal to buy or sell the seeds - go figure.”

If they can’t grow them, how do they make more seeds?

After WWI, the vets sold poppies to raise money. In Georgetown Texas, the poppies were planted, and have become wild flowers. They have a festival every spring, and call themselves the “Poppy Capital of Texas”.

Their poppies are strictly red, and are quite striking along with the bluebonnets in the springtime.