Saturday, May 05, 2012

Family tradition flower: Oriental poppy

This is only a family tradition flower because I remember my grandfather growing them from seeds, so I did as well. However, it's not an actual "heritage" or "heirloom" plant, because I bought the seeds. My father told me that he tried growing opium poppies, Papaver somniferum, without success. This was in a much different era from today, and it was legal to grow opium poppies. For that matter, it might still be legal to grow opium poppies, but I'll stick with the Papaver orientalis.
Last year, I moved these from a less suitable location. I was concerned, due to a reputation for difficult transplantation. They did indeed not prosper last year, but they survived. This year there are many flower buds on this plant, and a few on a second plant. The original location also now has 2 small poppy plants, from root fragments that were broken in the digging up process. Those are accidental root cuttings, or may have grown from seeds that fell from prior flowers. These were grown from seed, which is what makes them "heritage" for me (a family heritage of growing poppies from seed, not that the actual variety is heritage). These poppies grew for several years before blooming, but are now quite prolific and beautiful. These buds are growing fast. I expect full fledged poppies in a month. Even though Papaver orientalis is not a source of opium, it is a source of thebaine, which is used to make oxymorphone - the ingredient in the powerful narcotic, Opana. So far I have not seen people in the yard licking these plants. My suspicion is that, being ornamental varieties, the thebaine is in such a small amount that it would be useless for anyone to try. 'Hey - get out of my yard!"

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