Germination: surface sow and keep moist, tamp the soil, requires light for germination
Papaver somniferum, commonly known as the opium poppy or breadseed poppy, is a species of flowering plant in the family Papaveraceae. It is the species of plant from which both opium and poppy seeds are derived and is also a valuable ornamental plant grown in gardens.
The opium poppy is native to east of the Mediterranean Sea, but now is obscured by ancient introductions and cultivation, being naturalized across much of Europe and Asia. It is an annual herb growing to about 100 centimetres (40 inches) tall. The plant is strongly glaucous, giving a greyish-green appearance, and the stem and leaves bear a sparse distribution of coarse hairs. The large leaves are lobed, the upper stem leaves clasping the stem, the lowest leaves with a short petiole. The flowers are up to 3–10 cm (1–4 in) diameter, normally with four white, mauve or red petals, sometimes with dark markings at the base. The fruit is a hairless, rounded capsule topped with 12–18 radiating stigmatic rays, or fluted cap. All parts of the plant exude white latex when wounded.
The latex contains a number of alkaloids, including morphine, codeine, and thebaine. These alkaloids are used to produce a variety of pharmaceutical drugs, including painkillers, cough suppressants, and sedatives. The poppy seeds are also edible and are used in a variety of foods, including bagels, pastries, and breads.
The opium poppy is a valuable crop with a long history of cultivation. It is important to note, however, that the plant is also the source of a number of addictive drugs. It is legal to grow Papaver somniferum in the United States for garden and seed production purposes; it is illegal to manufacture opium from the poppies.