Friday, June 09, 2006

Papaver





The poppies I planted from seed two years ago bloomed this spring. The plants are fairly scrawny in the first year and you don't think they will survive the winter but the second year's growth was quite impressive as were the flowers. They bloom fairly early and only a few stragglers remain now. Unfortunately the flowers don't last a long time but they surely command attention with their brilliant color and very large flower on a tall stem.

These are the Oriental poppies, Papaver orientale. As you can see of the photo of my hand, the size of the bloom must be about 10 inches across. The forming seed pod and the stamens and pistil are interesting in itself. The seed pod can probably be dried and used in a dry arrangement adding a uncommon element. The pod looks just like the opium poppy pods. In fact I do believe that the poppy seeds we eat come from the opium poppy. Opium poppies, P. somniferum are grown as an ornamental, the flowers are quite striking with blossoms having a yellow center rather than the dark purple of the oriental. I guess it's not illegal to grow them just don't try to scar them and collect the sap!

The only problem we've had with P. orientale is that they occupy a large amount of space so you have to allow about three feet free space around each plant which we don't have so they're crammed in with other plants and don't seem to mind. We've also grown the P. atlanticum which freely self seeds and the P. nudicaule or Iceland poppy which you often see for sale with delicate pastel orange and pink flowers and P. commutatum which came in a wildflower seed mix and sort of took over the planting bed and looks like the red poppies that the veterans give you when you make a donation.

Being a curious sort I will someday try to plant the poppy seed used for baking. Will let you know how that experiment turns out.

2 Comments:

Blogger Zoey said...

Wow, I am impressed that you grew these from seed in just two years. I especially like the second one - that salmon color is very nice.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Zoey,
Actually poppies weren't very difficult to grow from seed. It takes some patience tho because the P. orientale takes two years from seed. But since it's a perennial we'll have these plants for quite a while. The difficulty is handling the tiny seeds! There are some species that bloom the first year from seeds. These are usually in wildflower seed packets but they sort of take over the planting bed after a while. Very pretty when blooming tho. I agree the pink one is my favorite but we get the most remarks about the large red ones.

11:48 AM  

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