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Oriental Poppy

Papaver orientale

  • Family: Poppy Family – Papaveraceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. Taproot long, branched.
  • Height: 40–85 cm (16–35 in.). Stem upper half leafless, hairy.
  • Flower: Regular (actinomorphic), 7–10 cm (2.8–4 in.) broad. Petals 4 or 6, orange, usually without spots, sometimes base with dark red or violet spot. Sepals 2–3, dropping as flower opens. Stamens many. Pistil of several fused carpels. Flowers solitary, terminating scape. Bud nodding, egg-shaped.
  • Leaves: In basal rosette and alternate along stem, stalked–stalkless. Stem leaves 2–5, until halfway along stem. Blade lobed, margin irregularly toothed .
  • Fruit: Cone-shaped, approx. 20 mm (0.8 in.) long capsule. Stigma disc with 8–15 violet stigma-rays.
  • Habitat: Old gardens, roadsides. Ornamental, escape from cultivation.
  • Flowering time: June.

No poppy species grow ferally in Finland, but their wonderful flowers have made them popular in gardens, and a few individual plants can sometimes be spotted growing wild in fields and beside roads. Oriental poppy is native to rocky slopes and dry meadows in the Caucasus, northern Iran and western Turkey, and it has long been cultivated in Finnish flower beds. It is not as popular as it once was, however, as more recently discovered big-flowered poppies have taken its place. In fact, pure oriental poppy might have disappeared altogether from Finnish gardens as the varieties that are cultivated are hybrids of different species. Most of these do not reproduce at all by seed, so they are seldom found outwith cultivated gardens.

Oriental poppy can be easily confused with pseudo-oriental poppy (P. pseudo-orientale), which is also commonly cultivated in gardens. The best identification markers for Oriental poppy are the way its leaves only reach halfway up the stem, its nodding buds, its usually purely orange petals and its conical capsule. The showiest compound-flowered varieties are not necessarily instantly recognizable as poppies. Unlike some other poppy species, Oriental poppy has no medicinal properties.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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