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Papaver somniferum L.
Family Papaveraceae
Common name: Opium Poppy, Common Poppy

Papaver somniferum L. APNI*

Description: Glaucous or subglaucous annual to 1 m or more high.

Basal leaves to 12 cm long, slightly lobed, cordate, glaucous or sub-glaucous.

Peduncle hairy or sparsely hairy. Petals 4–8 cm long, pink with a purple spot at the base.

Capsule 15–50 mm diam., dehiscing by pores or indehiscent, with 7–9 stigmatic rays.

Distribution and occurrence: both cultivated and weedy forms widespread. Native of Asia, Europe.
NSW subdivisions: *NC, *CC, *NT, *CT, *ST, *NWS, *CWS, *SWS, *NWP, *SWP, *NFWP, *SFWP, ?LHI
Other Australian states: *Qld *Vic. *Tas. *N.T. *S.A. *W.A.
AVH map***

Papaver somniferum has been cultivated for centuries as the source of opium (and its modern derivatives heroin, morphine, and codeine), and for edible seeds and oil. Also various colour forms with single, double and/or laciniate petals are grown for ornamental purposes. Two subspecies are distinguished here: subsp. somniferum and subsp. setigerum, the former comprising the cultivated forms, and the latter the weedy Atlantic and Mediterranean form, which some have posited as the progenitor of the cultivated plants. Subsp. somniferum is characterised by glabrous sepals, pale filaments and glabrous or only very sparsely setose upper leaf surfaces, and subsp. setigerum by setose sepals, dark filaments and sparsely to densely setose upper leaf surfaces. The specific epiphet (somniferum) means “sleep inducing” in Latin and refers to the narcotic properties of the plant.

Text by S.W.L. Jacobs; modified S.F. McCune (2022)
Taxon concept: VICFLORA. Nov. 2022

 Key to the subspecies 
1Capsule indehiscent, globose, frequently to 5 cm diam.; plants with very few scattered stiff hairssubsp. somniferum
Capsule dehiscing by pores, cylindrical to subglobose, usually <2 cm diam.; plant glaucous with scattered hairssubsp. setigerum

APNI* Provides a link to the Australian Plant Name Index (hosted by the Australian National Botanic Gardens) for comprehensive bibliographic data
***The AVH map option provides a detailed interactive Australia wide distribution map drawn from collections held by all major Australian herbaria participating in the Australian Virtual Herbarium project.
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