Peaceful Poppies

Relaxing in the presence of poppies is a lovely way to unwind and drift off. Indeed there seems to be something about poppies that can stir great emotion within us.

Perhaps it is the strange mixture of fragility and resilience.

poppies in the field

Overview 

Poppies are from the subfamily Papaveroideae of the family Papaveraceae.

Poppies are herbaceous plants grown mostly for their decorative and natural beauty. growing to about 100 cm (40 in) tall.

poppies bokeh

The plant is strongly glaucous, giving a greyish-green appearance, and the stem and leaves bear a sparse distribution of coarse hairs. Generally the flowers are up to 30–100 mm (1–4 in) diameter, normally with four white, mauve or red petals, sometimes with dark markings at the base.

The fruit is a hairless, rounded capsule topped with 12–18 radiating stigmatic rays, or fluted cap.  Are Poppies poisonous?

pink and red poppies

Poppies are known to be poisonous to livestock if eaten in high enough quantities and are toxic to dogs. Ingestion of any part of the plant can result in sedation. Signs of poisoning include lack of appetite, pinpoint pupils, dilated pupils. Keep a close eye on your pets around any poppy plants, including cats and horses.

Are poppies poisonous to humans? All poppies are poisonous, but not all varieties contain opium. The poisoning occurs from ingesting the unripe seed capsules.

History of early poppies 

Papaver somniferum was domesticated by the indigenous people of Western and Central Europe between 6000 and 3500 BC.

Although, it is believed that its origins may have come from the Sumerian people, where the first use of opium was recognized.

3 red poppies

Juglets that resembled poppy seed pods have been discovered with trace amounts of opium, and the flower is also known to have appeared in jewellery and on art pieces in Egypt, dated 1550-1292 BC.

Poppies and opium are well known to have been travelled around the world on the Silk Road along with other goods such is tea, spices and silk, a network of trade routes connecting the East and West. its name from the profitable trade in silk carried out along its length, beginning in the Han dynasty in China (207 BCE–220 CE.

Varieties 

How many varieties of poppy are there? There are at least 12 different genera in the subfamily Papaveroideae, which is within the plant family Papaveraceae that are more commonly found but in total there are 52 botanical varieties.

Most people will be able to recognise a poppy, even when it’s not the most commonly found wild variety, that grows in fields and road sides, brightening up the view with their vibrant red, delicate petals. 

One of the most popular garden varieties is the Oriental poppy, this perennial garden plant is often featured in northern gardens, with feathery foliage and orange, red, or salmon flowers which bloom in June and July.

poppy buds

A variety to avoid, the opium poppy, is an attractive plant, but growing it is technically illegal throughout the United States and can potentially result in some very significant penalties.

Some poppies are not so easy to grow as the regular roadside types,   the Iceland poppy, also known as the Arctic poppy is a good example. This is a short-lived perennial, but it performs as an annual only in northern climes. Elsewhere, it is usually grown as an annual, but it may not grow at all in any region with warm, humid summers.

The California Poppy Native to the west coast of the United States, these varieties of poppies produce blooms in shades of cream, yellow, orange, pink and purple.

The Himalayan poppy,  (Meconopsis betonicifolia) Renowned for its true-blue flowers, are harder to cultivate than most species. Their growing requirements stem from their origins high in the Himalayan mountains.

The most common poppy the Corn poppy, (Papaver rhoeas) also known as the Flanders poppy, is a species that grew wild on World War I battlefields, becoming a symbol of the war.

close up of a poppy

Flanders poppy 

John McCrae wrote the poem In Flanders Fields which inspired the use of the poppy as a symbol of Remembrance. In the spring of 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote his now famous poem after seeing poppies growing in battle-scarred fields. 

In Flanders Fields

The poem by John McCrae.

In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place: and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders’ fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high,

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders’ Fields. 

John McCrae
poppy field behind fence

Poppies are such delicate flowers with petals like tissue; yet somehow they find a footing in the most inhospitable of places.

Like many other wild flowers, poppies thrive in poor soils, and can often be found brightening up derelict landscapes, craggy corners and roadsides with their cheery blooms.

Poppies come in a range of colours, size and petal distribution.

From romantic reds and pastel pinks, to lovely lilacs creams… each variety has the characteristic hairy stalks, large flower buds and distinctive seed heads that eventually dry into seed ‘shaker pots’.

blurred poppies

For some, poppy fields may bring back memories of childhood film adventures with yellow brick roads.

For others, the poppy is a hugely symbolic flower – evoking memories of comrades that have fallen in battle. The poppy fields of Northern France are an enduring legacy, and these little flowers continue to act as a reminder of the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women.

poppies

For many people, poppies are symbols of hope and the enduring beauty of Nature.

Lazing around poppies is a lovely way to pass the time. Watching the flowers turning towards the sunshine, stalks delicately bending in the breeze…

poppy heads

I hope you enjoy relaxing with my pictures.

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12 Comments

  1. Did you know to keep poppies like these you have to spray with water last thing at night or first thing in morning. If left in a vase of water they just die. Something to do with the fine hairs

  2. Lynds Jennings says:

    My favourite flower done justice with beautiful pictures and descriptions ,thank you 🙂

  3. Sarah Rees says:

    Thank you so much for your comments. Poppies really do inspire emotions don’t they?…

  4. Ken Queenie says:

    the pictures speak as much as the spoken words written; you are gifted in both as much as you are unselfish. thanks for sharing these with the rest of world.

  5. Love poppies.. I started mine in the Los Padres National Forest from seeds in a neighbors yard, now they are perennial and reseed themselves in the most rocky, unfriendly decomposing granite soil. Bright and beautiful…

  6. Wow Paul, just exquisite! Love the images.

    Ann

  7. Rubens Canaan Soares says:

    “Calma e relaxa!” Obrigado!!!

    1. Rubens Canaan Soares says:

      Lindas imagens!!! Vou dizer feliz! 🙂

  8. These are so beautiful!! You make us really want to stop and smell the poppies.

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Thanks for the kind comment Charu 🙂

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