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The Poppy is an Angiospermae or flowering plant of the family Papaveraceae. Ornamental poppies are grown for their colorful flowers; some varieties of poppy are used as food, whilst other varieties produce the powerful medicinal alkaloid opium which has been used since ancient times to create analgesic and narcotic medicinal and recreational drugs. Following the trench warfare of the 1st World War which took place in the poppy fields of Flanders, red poppies have become a symbol of remembrance of soldiers who have died during wartime.
Poppy flowers have 4 to 6 petals, many stamens forming a conspicuous whorl in the center of the flower and an ovary consisting of from 2 to many fused carpels. Poppies can grow to be over 4 feet tall, and 6 inches across. (Simon, Chadwick, and Craker 1984) The petals are showy, may be of almost any color and some have markings. The petals are crumpled in the bud and as blooming finishes, the petals often lie flat before falling away. The poppy will become dormant after blooming. Poppies are in full bloom late spring to early summer. (Simon, Chadwick, and Craker 1984) Most species secrete latex when injured. The pollen of the oriental poppy, Papaver orientale, is dark blue. The Papaver Somniferum poppy is mainly grown in Eastern and Southern Asia, and South Eastern Europe. It is believed that it originated in the Mediterranean region. (Jonsson and Krzymanski, 1989) The pollen of the field poppy or corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas) is dark green to grey. Bees use poppies as a pollen source.
- Papaver – corn poppy, Opium poppy, Oriental poppy, Iceland poppy, and about 120 other species
- Eschscholzia – California poppy and relatives
- Meconopsis – Welsh poppy, Nepal poppy, and relatives
- Stylophorum – Celandine poppy or wood poppy
- Argemone – Prickly poppy
- Romneya – Matilija poppy and relatives
- Canbya – Pygmy poppy
- Stylomecon – Wind poppy
- Arctomecon – desert bearpaw poppy
- Hunnemannia – Tulip poppy
- Dendromecon – Tree poppy
The flowers of most poppy species are attractive and are widely cultivated as annual or perennial ornamental plants. This has resulted in a number of commercially important cultivars, such as the Shirley poppy, a cultivar of Papaver rhoeas and semi-double or double (flore plena) forms of the opium poppy Papaver somniferum and oriental poppy (Papaver orientale). Poppies of several other genera are also cultivated in gardens. A few species have other uses, principally as sources of drugs and foods. The opium poppy is widely cultivated and its worldwide production is monitored by international agencies. It is used for production of the dried latex, opium, the principal precursor of narcotic and analgesic opiates such as morphine, heroin and codeine. Poppies are rich in oil, carbohydrates, calcium, and protein. Poppy oil is often used as cooking oil, salad dressing oil, or in products such as margarine. Poppy oil can also be added to spices for cakes, or breads. Poppy products are also used in different paints, varnishes, and some cosmetics.(Jonsson and Krzymanski, 1989)
Poppies have long been used as a symbol of sleep, peace, and death: sleep because of the opium extracted from them, and death because of the common blood-red color of the red poppy in particular. In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead. Poppies used as emblems on tombstones symbolize eternal sleep. This symbolism was evoked in the children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, in which a magical poppy field threatened to make the protagonists sleep forever.
The poppy of wartime remembrance is Papaver rhoeas, the red-flowered corn poppy. This poppy is a common weed in Europe and is found in many locations, including Flanders, the setting of the famous poem "In Flanders Fields," by the Canadian surgeon and soldier John McCrae. In Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, artificial poppies (plastic in Canada, paper in the UK, Australia, South Africa, Malta and New Zealand) are worn to commemorate those who died in war. This form of commemoration is associated with Remembrance Day, which falls on November 11. In Canada, Australia and the UK, poppies are often worn from the beginning of November through to the 11th, or Remembrance Sunday if that falls on a later date (November 13 in 2011). In New Zealand and Australia, soldiers are commemorated on ANZAC day (April 25), although the poppy is still commonly worn around Remembrance Day. Wearing of poppies has been a custom since 1924 in the United States. Miss Moina Michael of Georgia is credited as the founder of the Memorial Poppy in the United States.
Medical uses 
Ancient Egyptian doctors would have their patients eat seeds from a poppy to relieve pain. Poppy seeds contain both morphine and codeine, which are pain-relieving drugs that are still used today. Poppy seeds and fixed oils can also be nonnarcotic because when they are harvested, they are after the capsule has lost the opium yielding potential. The morphine practically disappears from the seeds twenty days after the flower has opened. (Jonsson and Krzymanski, 1989)
Other uses 
The California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, is the state flower of California.
The girl's given name Poppy is taken from the flower.
Poppies (Amapolas in Spanish) are commonly featured as the central flower in Puerto Rican weddings.
Artificial poppies (called "Buddy Poppies") are used in the veterans' aid campaign by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which provides money to the veterans who assemble the poppies and various aid programs to veterans and their families.
Canada issued special quarters (25-cent coins) with a red poppy on the reverse in 2004, 2008 and 2010. The 2004 Canadian "poppy" quarter was the world's first coloured circulation coin.
Field of poppies, by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, c. 1912
White poppy seeds. There are about 140,000 poppy seeds to the ounce.
See also 
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Poppies|
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- In Flanders Fields
- Papaver rhoeas
- Poppy goddess
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
- White poppy (symbol)
- Dorothy Hodges (1952). The pollen loads of the honeybee. Bee Research Association Ltd., London.
- L. Frank Baum, Michael Patrick Hearn, The Annotated Wizard of Oz, p. 173, ISBN 0-517-50086-8
- Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, 24. 15 p. 96, ISBN 0-14-001026-2
- Graham Seal (2004). Inventing Anzac: the digger and national mythology. Univ. of Queensland Press. pp. 105–. ISBN 978-0-7022-3447-7. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
- "Miss Moina Michael".
- World Book; Inc (2003). The World Book dictionary. World Book .com. pp. 1622–. ISBN 978-0-7166-0299-6. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
- United States of America Congressional Record. Government Printing Office. pp. 10121–. GGKEY:8F7NFQJ525R. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
- National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia. Macedonian currency. Banknotes in circulation: 500 Denars (1996 issue) & 500 Denars (2003 issue). – access date 30 March 2009
- Veterans of Foreign Wars Buddy Poppy Website
- Canadian Poppy Coins
- Dr. Hutchins, R. E. 1965. The Amazing Seeds. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company/ref>
- Simon, Chadwick, and Craker, J. A. L. "Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography".
- Jonsson and Krzymanski, R., J. (1989). Oil Crops of the World. New York: Mcgraw Hill.