Alphabetical Plant Listing

Papaver somniferum (Opium Poppy)

Opium Poppy, Breadseed Poppy, Lettuce Leaf Poppy, Carnation Poppy, Peony Poppy, Fairy's Charms, Joan Silver Pin, John's Silver Pin, Marble Flower, Maw Seed (Papaver somniferum)


Papaver somniferum (Opium Poppy) is a tall, upright annual from which both opium and poppy seeds are derived. It is also a valuable ornamental plant bearing large flowers, up to 5 in. across (12 cm), in various color shades including white, mauve, red, pink, purple, and almost jet black. Flowers are semi-double, double, or adorned with fringed petals. Quite popular are the large peony flowered poppies referred to as Peony Poppies (Papaver somniferum Paeoniiflorum Group).

The large petals surround a green, spherical capsule topped by a disk formed by the stigmas of the flower. Blooming for weeks in summer, the spectacular blooms sit on top of sturdy stems clad with lobed or toothed silver-green leaves, the upper ones clasping the stem.

Opium poppies are still attractive and ornamental once the petals fall away. Their decorative seed capsules remain. They can be used in dried flower arrangements, or left in the garden for the visual interest they bring. Each plant can produce thousands of seeds, which escape when the seed pod is shaken by the wind. These poppies are among the best for reseeding in the garden. 

Papaver somniferum is probably native to the eastern Mediterranean but has now naturalized across much of Europe and Asia.

All parts of the plant exude white latex when wounded.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 8
Heat Zones 1 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, A1, A2, A3, H1, H2
Plant Type Annuals
Plant Family Papaver - Poppies
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Height 3' - 4' (90cm - 120cm)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Dried Arrangements, Cut Flowers, Showy
Tolerance Deer, Drought, Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

Petr Ganaj, Shutterstock, Tony Austin, Flickr

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 8
Heat Zones 1 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, A1, A2, A3, H1, H2
Plant Type Annuals
Plant Family Papaver - Poppies
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Height 3' - 4' (90cm - 120cm)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Dried Arrangements, Cut Flowers, Showy
Tolerance Deer, Drought, Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies
Landscaping Ideas Beds and Borders
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
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