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Poppy

Introduction to Opium Poppy (Papaver Somniferum)

The opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L), is an annual herb native to Southeastern Europe and western Asia. The opium poppy is a species of plant known as Papaver Somniferum L, which is from the family of plants known as; Papaveraceae (or Poppy Family). This species of plant has been known to grow as tall as 1.5 meters. The opium poppy, with its gorgeous white to pink or purple flowers, has had a powerful impact on human affairs as both a medicinal blessing and a societal curse.

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The opium poppy produces varying amounts of a viscous latex which contains several strong alkaloids, such as; morphine, codeine, noscapine, papaverine, and thebaine. This latex is collected by incising the immature capsule (or pod), one to three weeks after flowering. Once the capsule slows or has stopped secreting, the coagulated latex is then scraped from the pods surface and collected. This dry, darkened, slightly sticky latex mass is called opium, from the Greek Opos, which means juice. From this opium, a number of alkaloids can then be extracted or isolated. Mature seeds from the opium poppy do not contain any alkaloids. These poppy seeds with their distinct flavor, have been used for centuries as a culinary spice, as well as for baking on rolls and other pastry goods.

"This introduction is not finished."

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References

Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum) image:
http://www.kraeuter-verzeichnis.de/zeichnungen/gross/Schlafmohn.jpg

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