Poppy Seeds

Poppy seed in an oilseed obtainted from the opium poppy(Papaver somniferum). Opium poppy, is an annual herb native to Turkey and adjancet countries, having grayish-green leaves and variously colored( white, pink, red, or purple) flowers. Poppy seeds also range over wide variety of colors.

Poppy seed was used as a symbol of honour. Women in second century Crete cultivated poppy plants for opium and Hippocrates suggested opium in medicine. Opium was known medicinally to the ancient Egyptians and the classical civilisations. They were mixed with and honey by the Romans and fed to the athletes who competed in the first Olympic games. The poppy has been cultivated for over 5000 years in Turkey in Afyon.

Description and Cultivation

P.somniferum is an erect, annual herb, 30-150 cm long with 0.5 to 1.5 cm thick stem. The root is either shy branched or much branched, tapering and yellow. Flower buds are ovoid, flowers are white to purple. When the flowers fade, a capsule remains, rounded and crowned with a star-shaped stigma. The seeds mature in a capsule left after the flower fades. Poppy seeds are like tiny hard grains and range over a wide variety of colours, from white, yellow, brown to gray and blue. The blue seeds average 1mm in length, while the white seeds are somewhat smaller. They are similar in flavour and texture and their uses are interchangeable. Poppy can be cultivated in well-drained soil in open sunny locations in subtropical regions. Direct sowing is better as transplanted ones do not grow well. It is a six months crop and sowing is done mostly in autumn.

Scientific Classification
Kingdom : Plantea
Division : Magnoliophyta
Class : Magnoliopsida
Order : Papaverales
Family : Papaveraceae
Genius : Papaver
Species : Papaver somniferum