Other names: Lucerne
Scientific name: Papaver rhoeas
Ayurvedic names: Ahiphena
Chinese names: Ya-pin
Bangladesh names: Aaphim
Arabic names: خشخاش أحمر (khaskhash ahmar)
Rain Forest names:
Approximate number of species known:
Common parts used: Petal
Collection: Late spring onwards
Actions: Sedative, expectorant
Known Constituents: Tannin, mucilage
Related to the opium poppy, used to soothe coughs in respiratory conditions.
Herb Name: Poppy, White
Latin name: Papaver Somniferum
Common part used:
The Opium Poppy, Papaver somniferum, is the type of poppy from which opium and many refined opiates, including morphine, thebaine, codeine, papaverine, and noscapine, are extracted. The binomial name means, loosely, the “sleep-bringing poppy”, referring to its narcotic properties. The seeds are important food items, and contain healthy oils used worldwide in the culinary arts. The plant itself is valuable for ornamental purposes, and has been known as the “common garden poppy”. It is widely grown in ornamental gardens throughout Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.
The opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), an annual herb 3-5 feet tall with gorgeous white to pink or purple flowers, has had a powerful impact on human affairs as a medical blessing and a societal curse.
Papaver somniferum is a species of plant with many sub-groups or varieties. Colors of the flower vary widely, as do other physical characteristics such as number and shape of petals, number of pods, production of morphine, etc.
The plant is an erect, herbaceous annual, varying much in the color of its flowers, as well as in the shape of the fruit and colour of the seeds. All parts of the plant, but particularly the walls of the capsules, or seed-vessels, contain a system of laticiferous vessels, filled with white latex.
The flowers vary in color from pure white to reddish purple. In the wild plant, they are pale lilac with a purple spot at the base of each petal. In England, mostly in Lincolnshire, a variety with pale flowers and whitish seeds is cultivated medicinally for the sake of the capsules. Belgium has usually supplied a proportion of the Poppy Heads used in this country, though those used for fomentations are mostly of home growth.
Papaver somniferum Paeoniflorum Group is a sub-type of opium poppy whose flowers are highly double, and are grown in many colors. Papaver somniferum Laciniatum Group is a sub-type of opium poppy whose flowers are highly double and deeply lobed, to the point of looking like a ruffly pompon.
Medicinal Uses: Tasmania, Turkey and India are the major producers of poppy for medicinal purposes and poppy-based drugs, such as morphine or codeine. The USA has a policy of sourcing 80% of its narcotic raw materials from the traditional producers, India and Turkey.
A recent initiative to extend opium production for medicinal purposes called Poppy for Medicine was launched by The Senlis Council which proposes that Afghanistan could produce medicinal opium under a scheme similar to that operating in Turkey and India. The Council proposes licensing poppy production in Afghanistan, within an integrated control system supported by the Afghan government and its international allies, to promote economic growth in the country, create vital drugs and combat poverty and the diversion of illegal opium to drug traffickers and terrorist elements. Interestingly, Senlis is on record advocating reintroduction of poppy into areas of Afghanistan, specifically Kunduz, which has been poppy free for some time.