Legal or illegal poppies

jansblooms(z4 IA)July 19, 2004

After a recent TV news story concerning poppies in a Pella garden, I need some answers about which species/variety is illegal. The seedheads pictured in the news report looked a great deal like those pictured in catalogs. I'd love to try growing some poppies, especially for drying the seedheads for winter arrangements, but I certainly don't want to do anything illegal. Does anyone have any answers, with botanical names, please?

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I have done a little investigating since this story broke - and I have a large poppy patch at home. First I think that you would have to be doing something suspicious, not just growing a few plants, to get the police at your house.

Here's what I found -
Two Poppy varieties have been found to carry morphine:
Papaver somniferum & Papaver setigerum
Other than the names, no where is there and exact description of the plants -

Variation in the flower
The flower may be single or double, with considerable variation of shape, arrangement and colour of petals (white, pink, red, purple, crimson or variegated).

Variation in the seed
Here again contradictory assertions and classifications, attributing particular effects on the plantÂs alkaloid content to certain colours of seed, are made. The fact is that there are white, yellow, coffee-coloured, black, grey, blue, etc., seeds, and there appears to be virtually no relationship between the colour of the flower and that of the seed.

Variation in the capsule
The capsules may be of different shapes (elongated, globular, oblate, etc.) and no relationship can be detected between the shape and the alkaloid content (on the other hand, some shapes are easier than others to incise for the collection of the latex). The capsules may also be closed or open, and there may be two, three or more capsules on each plant.

Other variations
Lastly, the poppy may vary as to height (30 to 150 centimeters or more), stem appearance (glabrous or hairy), and leaf, which may be of many different shapes.

pretty vague - to say the least!

Mary Beth
Amana, IA

Here is a link that might be useful: Papaver somniferum

    Bookmark   July 20, 2004 at 12:29PM
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LeslieL(z5a IA)

There have been numerous posts on this in the past, some of them quite heated! : ) I will do a search and see if I can find them....
well, no posts, but here is a link to a USDA website, which mentions nothing about the illegality of growing poppies. You would think they would be in on the deal. The issue does seem to be very confusing. I have grown them for years and not been arrested once! I'm with Mary Beth, if you like the poppies, keep growing them. Just don't start manufacturing opium and you'll be fine.

Here is a link that might be useful: usda poppy link

    Bookmark   July 23, 2004 at 2:07AM
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LOL, I didn't see the story but it is amusing to me nonetheless =)

I personally would find it hard to believe that any drug agency would be soooooooo bored to start searching gardens for illegal poppy growing =) That would be like them being sooooooo bored that they would go out to the farm fields and ditches to locate waterhemp plants (ie marijuana.)

I think it is all about your intensions =) So as long as you're not planning on doing any drug manufacturing to support your gardening hobby, I doubt immensely anyone would care.

Good luck!
Stacey near CF

    Bookmark   July 25, 2004 at 7:26PM
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