Papaver, commonly known as Poppy, is a genus of about 50 species of flowering plants in the family Papaveraceae, native to Eurasia, Africa and North America.
These plants have gray-green leaves and colorful, cup-shaped or saucer-shaped flowers. They are one of the most popular wildflowers and one of the world’s most loved plants. Poppies are pleasing to the eye and attract many beneficial insects. They grow in wild, especially in fields and meadows. However, you can use them in flower beds and gardens.
The genus name comes from the Latin word “papaverum”, which means “poppy”.
But some believed the name might be a corruption of two words: “piper” (“pepper”) and “aver” (“from Africa”).
Papaver is a symbol of fertility, remembrance and sacrifice.
It also symbolizes peace, sleep, pleasure, hope and resilience.
It’s also worth to mention that Poppies have long been used as a symbol of death, in reference to the blood-red color of some species.
Interesting facts about Papaver:
Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum)
Papaver somniferum, commonly known as Opium Poppy, is an annual plant native to Turkey and the Middle East. It is an old medicinal plant used as a remedy to treat various ailments. The medicinal properties of Opium Poppy come from its high concentration of alkaloid content.
Apart from that, this plant is much more famous as the source of the addictive narcotics, such as morphine, codeine and heroin. The drugs obtained from Opium Poppy are called opiates and the abuse of these drugs is a serious global problem.
Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas)
Papaver rhoeas is an annual plant native to Europe and Asia. This plant has many common names, including Common Poppy, Corn Poppy, Field Poppy, Flanders Poppy and Red Poppy.
The species is known for its red, large and showy flowers that are stunningly red and usually have a black spot at their base. The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine.
The Common Poppy is a commonly used symbol of commemorationof the First World War that took place between 1914-1918. It is also a symbol of resilience and hope for a better tomorrow.
The First World War changed the landscape dramatically. The battlefields were barren landscapes where nothing could grow. However, Poppies continued to grow in land devastated by war, flourishing even in the middle of chaos! They grew and thrived in the war-torn battlefields of Europe, which served as an inspiration for the famous poem “In Flanders Fields”, written by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in 1915.
The poem starts off saying: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row / That mark our place…”. In the end of the poem, he gives a powerful message of hope and resilience: “Take up our quarrel with the foe: / To you from failing hands we throw / The torch; be yours to hold it high. / If ye break faith with us who die / We shall not sleep, though poppies grow / In Flanders fields.”
He died of pneumonia in 1918, but his poem will always be remembered by generations to come.
Common Poppy is the national flower of Poland and Belgium.
Banefits and Uses
Poppy has played an important role in medicine, agriculture, politics, religion and mythology.
Some species have medicinal properties and are used against several diseases, such as diarrhea, cramps, cough, bronchitis, tuberculosis, and other respiratory problems. Others are natural sedatives that has often been used to relieve insomnia and pain and to relax tensed muscles.
Several species are cultivated for culinary use and baking.
Some species, such as Papaver orientate (Oriental Poppy) and the annuals Papaver nudicaule (Iceland poppy) and Papaver rhoeas (Common Poppy) are grown as ornamentals.
The flowers bloom in a range of colors, from white, yellow, pink and orange to red and purple.
Poppy usually grows between 30 and 90 cm (1-3 ft) tall.
The plant likes well drained soil that is acidic, neutral or alkaline. It tolerates poor soil and drought.