Opium Poppies

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Barbara Lloyd, Jul 10, 2012.

  1. Barbara Lloyd

    Barbara Lloyd Well-Known Member

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    I was asked a rather strange question today by an Adult in the neighborhood.

    "Does the hybridizing of the opium poppy lessen it's opiate effect?"

    I think the reason for this question is the fact that we have some nitwit/s going through this neighborhood every year about late July and harvesting the pods from eveyones poppies. I'm not sure if they are just taking the opuim or all the poppy pods. This will be the first year we planted both poppies, so I guess I'll learn. barb
     
  2. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    The pods are also used ornamentally, in flower arrangements (as is, or I've seen them sprayed gold in Christmas arrangements), and as ink stamps. I guess you wouldn't need to harvest all of them for ink stamps.

    That doesn't answer your direct question.
     
  3. Sea Witch

    Sea Witch Active Member

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    Hi Barbara,

    The answer is maybe or maybe not or maybe it increases the opium level.

    Some depends on what types of hybrids we're talking about. Hybrids between the different Papaver somniferum subspecies will have varying amounts of opium and its components including morphine, codeine, papaverine, thebaine, etc. etc., as in more or less. Some subspecies have a lot, and some have not much.

    If you're talking about hybrids between Papaver somniferum and other Papaver species, then I suspect you'll have somewhere between a lot of opium and none. Furthermore some of the other species have other non-opium toxic chemicals which could occur in these hybrids.

    So tell your adult acquaintance that if he/she is interested in opium, then he would do well to stay within Papaver somniferum species and subspecies, and if he can't absolutely positively identify a Papaver somniferum as different from other Papaver species, then he's playing Russian Roulette.

    I hope this helps....
     
  4. Barbara Lloyd

    Barbara Lloyd Well-Known Member

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    Thank you very much Sea Witch. Sounds really scary. Think I'll not be even picking the poppies since I know I'm allergic to codene. Mayby our little nitwit/thieves don't really know what their doing and will do themselves in.
     
  5. dt-van

    dt-van Active Member 10 Years

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    Relax everyone, Papaver somniferum is the same poppy used for making poppy seed cake, poppy seed bagels, poppy seed salad dressing etc. Unless you have a serious allergy to any food with poppy seeds in it you should have nothing to fear from handling the plant. Whoever is stealing your pods will never get any opium from them. As I understand it, harvesting opium is a complicated process which involves slitting the unripe pods which are then left on the plant, coming back later to scrape off the resin that oozes out and then more processing of the resin. Collecting ripe pods will give you poppyseeds to eat or plant or decorative heads for drying, but it won't give you consumable opiates.

    Are there actually hybrids of P. somnifera available? Or is you questioner asking about the ornamental cultivars which have been selected for fancy colours and petals , but are all still (as far as I know) P. somnifera
     
  6. Sea Witch

    Sea Witch Active Member

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    Hi dt-van,

    with all due respect, you're half right.


    This first part is right. The second part isn't.

    Yes, opium can be harvested like you describe, was harvested like that until early in the 20th century, and still is processed like that in some countries, but today, 90% of the world's legal medicinal opium production is harvested from the dry pods with the seeds removed. It's called "poppy straw", and yes it is full of opiates. It's much cheaper to commercially produce it like that instead of having poor people walk through thousands of poppies with razor blades, over and over.

    I have no idea if someone with an allergy to codeine would have a reaction to poppy seeds, but personally--as someone with a variety of food allergies--I'd stay away from them. It's commonly known that athletes can test positive for opiates after eating a poppy seed bagel or piece of poppy seed cake.

    I hope this helps,
     
  7. Barbara Lloyd

    Barbara Lloyd Well-Known Member

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    My thanks to both of you. Yes, I am asking about all forms of poppies. I'll just keep hoping our little (maybe they are big) nitwit/thieves don't really know what their doing.
     

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