The humble poppy or Papaveraceae (Papaver) if we want to be botanically correct, is an annual herbaceous flowering plant that is used as a symbol of remembrance of fallen soldiers during the 1st World War and thereafter.  It grew vigorously among the battlefields of Flanders when nothing else would grow. 

There are over 70 species of Papaver, the one most common is Papaver rhoeas, affectionally known as the common, corn, Flanders or Shirley Poppy (depending on where you live!).

But there is so much more to the poppy!  They have been grown as ornamental plants since 5000BC and were found in Egyptian tombs.  They are associated in Greek mythology with Demeter, goddess of fertility and agriculture.

Poppies are attributed with medicinal properties.  The latex in the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) is used to produce morphine and codeine.  From the mid-19th century Europe began to manufacture morphine.

As a cut flower you need to be careful!  The latex in the stem can be an irritant, so always wash your hands after handling.  The latex can also effect the life of other flowers.  When cutting poppies from the garden, put them in a bucket or vase for 24 hours before mixing them with other flowers.

They can take some time to open, but you can gently peel back the outer petals and the poppy will pop open!

Once open they do not live long as a cut flower.  We love them in a simple jug - sometimes that is all you need...


February 16, 2022 — Sarah Clerke

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