The Afghan poppy is very beautiful and comes in many varieties. As such, you merely need to pick the variety you wish to plant and the climate to grow them in whether indoors or out or hot and dry or cool and moist…
Afghanistan is the world’s leading supplier of poppies grown for the illegal drug trade. Opium is a derivative from the poppy seed pod. Under the Taliban, the growth of poppies was reduced, but now there are fields and fields of poppies. The reason for this is simple, as poppies bring about eight times as much income per hectare as does wheat. This has caused problems not only in the drug trade control but also in the Afghan food supply.
History of the Afghan Poppy
The poppy goes back to prehistoric times. Its images are shown in Sumerian artefacts. The ancient Greeks knew its derivative as opium, the same name it is known for now. The Greeks used the opium to treat asthma, stomach illness and poor eyesight. Poppies made into opium caused the Opium Wars in the 1830s- 1860’s between Great Britain and China. The Chinese were opposed to the addictive powder, while the British used the opium as a medium of exchange for trade.
There are many varieties and sub varieties. The Paeoniflorium types include Burnt Orange, Crimson, Flemish Antique, Frosted Salmon and Crimson and White. Among mixes is a peony poppy known as Summer Fruits. These poppy varieties are noted by the flowers being highly doubled.
The Lacinaitum types are recognizable by a ruffly pompom flower. Types of these are the Crimson Feathers, Daneborg, Pink Bicton, Rose Feathers and Indian White.
Single types have the best pod for drying. These include Queens Poppy, Persian Princess and Imperial Princess.
All of these varieties are members of the Papaver Somniforum family which is Latin for “sleepbringing poppy”.
Uses for Poppies
The poppy is used to extract opium from the seed pods to make pain killing drugs like morphine and codeine. It is highly regulated in this form, and if used correctly is very helpful in treatments and in post operation recovery. Poppy seeds are used in cooking, as in muffins and included in other baking. Poppy seed oil is also used in baking.
Legality of Growing Poppies
In the United Kingdom, you do not need a license for growing poppy flowers for ornamentation. Only if you extract the latex of the poppy for medicinal purposes is the license needed. In the United States, the opium poppy and poppy straw (dried poppy plant) are prohibited. This is not enforced for poppies grown or sold for ornaments and food purposes. The poppy is so varied and so beautiful that they are regularly sought after by gardeners. Indeed, you may buy the poppy seed of the variety you wish to grow over the internet.