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Papaver Somniferum Awakes

Usually, I don’t expect to see the seedlings from our annual poppies (papaver somniferum) emerging timidly from the ground until the end of April. Yet, here we are on the last day of winter, and I’ve already found two of the silver-leaved plants.

poppy before floweringThese aren’t young seedlings, either. They’re at least three inches across so far, with three sets of leaves already.

Whether these poppies germinated at the beginning of winter, when temperatures remained unusually warm, or had rapid growth triggered by the unusually hot weather we’ve been having over the last week and a half, I can’t be sure of. What I can say is that I have never before seen a March of such unseasonal and robust plant growth in my garden.

There are casualties of the unusual weather as well. Crocus blossoms had just emerged when we had two days of sun and heat around 80 degrees. The flowers withered quickly, leaving an odd gap in the garden, although daffodils have rushed to arrive early as well.

7 thoughts on “Papaver Somniferum Awakes”

  1. Richard Winger says:

    What state do you live in?

  2. Stephen Kent Gray says:

    I’m not that familliar with stuff by their scientific name, so I wikipedia’d it and it redirected to that page above. Papaver somniferum is opium poppies which I thought only grew in mountainous areas like the Golden Cresent (Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan) and Golden Triangle (Burma/Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam) as well as Mexico and Colombia.

    Opium poppies are technically illegal, but that isn’t enforced for poppies grown for food or ornamental purposes. It explains in the following:

    In the United States, opium is listed as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration. In addition, “Opium poppy and poppy straw” are also prohibited.[8] However, this is not typically enforced for poppies grown or sold for ornamental or food purposes.[1] Though the opium poppy is legal for culinary or æsthetic reasons, poppies were once grown as a cash crop by farmers in California, the law of poppy cultivation in the United States is somewhat ambiguous.[9] The reason for the ambiguity is because, now repealed,[10][11][12] The Opium Poppy Control Act Of 1942 stated that any opium poppy should be declared illegal, even if the farmers were issued a State permit.[13] § 3 of The Opium Poppy Control Act stated:
    It shall be unlawful for any person who is not the holder of a license authorizing him to produce the opium poppy, duly issued to him by the Secretary of the Treasury in accordance with the provisions of this Act, to produce the opium poppy, or to permit the production of the opium poppy in or upon any place owned, occupied, used, or controlled by him. This led of to the Poppy Rebellion, and to the Narcotics Bureau arresting anyone planting opium poppies and forcing the destruction of poppy fields of anyone who defied the prohibition of poppy cultivation.[14][15] Though the press of these days showed favour towards the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the state of California supported the farmers who grew opium poppies for their seeds. Today, this area of law has remained vague and remains a controversy in the United States.[16] The Opium Poppy Control Act of 1942 was repealed on 27 October of the year 1970.[17][18]

  3. J. Clifford says:

    I live in Upstate New York, near the border with Canada. This unusual weather has stretched all the way from Maine to Minnesota, to my knowledge. Perhaps beyond there.

    Papaver somniferum produces quite good poppy seeds, good for rolls and muffins. The flowers are also attractive, as are the silvery green leaves. They’re a self-seeding annual, and are easy to spread simply by sprinkling the seeds through your flower bed in September, after the flower heads have dried.

    1. Stephen Kent Gray says:

      Is your part of New York near part of the Appalachian mountain range?

      I see on the map that they do extend in to some parts of New York, but I’m not sure if your area is such a part of New York. There are two maps showing the AM range area, compare where you are to where the AM range is on the map.

      Opium can only grow in mountianous condiitions I think. I also have a tendency to forget that America has two mountain ranges since I live in the Midwest (Gary, Indiana).

      1. J. Clifford says:

        No, no. These poppies definitely will grow along the Great Lakes Plain. I’ve seen them in gardens there. In fact, my seeds originally came from that area… well, originally the Himalayas, but you know what I mean.

        1. Stephen Kent Gray says:

          Oh, cause a friend of mine told me that they wouldn’t grow in the area of Lafayette, Indiana (near Purdue). I told her that I think they only grow in areas like the Golden Crescent/Triangle.

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