The Poppy belongs to the genera “Papaveraceae” which includes the oriental poppy, corn poppy, opium poppy, iceland poppy, and approximately 120 other species. Available in many colours, white, yellow, orange & purple to name a few, the red poppy is the most famous probably due to it’s association with Remembrance Day.
Poppies have 4 to 6 petals which start off being “crumpled” and mature to where they lay flat. They are a very attractive flower & plant and are much sought after as ornamental plants in gardens. Opium poppies are sought after for both drugs & food, it’s production is monitored by international agencies due to the potency of the drug opium which is produced from the flower. But it’s poppy seeds are also a popular food for cooking and baking.
Poppies symbolize two things; sleep & death. Sleep because of the opium that is extracted and death because of the blood red colour (of the red poppies obviously). Both Greeks and Romans offered the poppy to the dead. The poppy is widely used on emblems and tombstones to symbolize eternal sleep.
In Ancient Egypt, doctors instructed patients who were in pain to eat the poppy which was effective in relieving pain. Of course modern science tells us this worked due to the seeds containing both morphine and codeine. These are pain relieving medications that are currently widely used.
Canadians love the poppy, so much so that in 2004 a red poppy was put on the quarter (25¢ coin). This was the worlds first coloured circulated coin.
The Poppy is an easy plant to grow, it will tolerate most soil conditions, prefers full sun to partial shade and depending on the variety can be grown from zone 3 and up.