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Botanical Name : Papaver bracteatum
Species: P. bracteatum
Synonyms: Papaver orientale
Common Name :Iranian poppy
Habitat : Papaver bracteatum is native to W. Asia – Armenia, N.E. Iran, Turkey. It grows in meadows, usually in sub-alpine zones, but also on stony slopes in the lower mountain zone.
Papaver bracteatum is a sturdy perennial poppy with large deep red flowers up to 8 inches (20 cm) across on stiff stalks up to 4 feet (1.22 metres) high with a prominent black spot near the base of the petals. It is related to the commonly cultivated oriental poppy, Papaver orientale.
Non-horticultural use of this species is for the production of thebaine, which is commercially converted to codeine and semi-synthetic opiates. Papaver bracteatum does not contain morphine or codeine and no other narcotic alkaloids in significant amounts. Oripavine was reported in minute traces but would not exert a relevant activity.
It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife.
The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.
Prefers a well-drained sandy loam in a sunny position. Succeeds in an ordinary good soil and in dry soils, tolerating drought when established. Plants prefer a deep soil that is poor and dry rather than rich, they dislike moist conditions. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn. A deep-rooting and almost indestructible plant, every scrap of the running root system that is left in the ground can grow into a new plant. There are many named varieties selected for their ornamental value. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits. A good bee plant.
Seed – sow June in an outdoor seedbed. Plant into permanent positions in September. Seed can also be sown in spring and may then flower in late summer. Division in March or October with care. Another report suggests that division is very simple. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer. Root cuttings 10cm long, November/December in a cold frame.
Edible Uses: Condiment.
The young seed heads are used as a condiment, they are hot and acrid. Some caution is advised, see the notes below on toxicity.
The petals are sudorific.The roots are used medicinally. Their constituents include thebaine. It is possible to derive codeine and other pain-killing substances from thebaine. Unlike opium alkaloids, thebaine does not have additive narcotic properties, it cannot be used directly and it thus poses no dancer of drug addiction: morphine, the precursor of the addictive-drug heroin, can be obtained only with great difficulty from it. For pharmaceutical purposes, therefore, there may be considerable social and economic benefits in introducing this poppy into cultivation in place of Opium Poppy. Crop scientists have discovered that Iranian Poppy can provide up to 37 kg of codeine per hectare compared with Opium Poppy’s much lower yield of 3 kg per hectare.
Known Hazards: Although no specific mention has been found for this plant, many species in this genus are toxic to mammals, though the toxicity is low.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider