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Opium poppy: seeds and extraction

Opium poppy: seeds and extraction


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Opium poppy, originally from Turkey, is actually to be called by its scientific name Papaver somniferum, which already gives the idea of ​​being in front of a flower, a plant, which has effects to be explored. Belonging to Papaveraceae family, this plant is widespread in areas where it finds a temperate climate, wherever in the world they are. This opium poppy is famous because it is the hallucinogenic one from which opium and some hallucinogens including morphine and heroin are obtained. The root of this annual cycle plant is a taproot, then continues with a straight and slightly branched stem, never higher than one and a half meters in height, decorated with simple leaves that appear isolated, divided or laciniated

Opium poppy: seeds

The seeds are very useful for reproduction and we find them in semi-woody capsules that the plant produces during flowering. The seeds also serve to extract opium and hallucinogens, on the other hand, the opium poppy is also able to self-inseminate so it reproduces without too much effort on our part.

Opium poppy: extraction

To extract opium or hallucinogens from opium poppy seeds, contained in capsules composed of walls rich in latex, are needed. The seeds of the Papaver somniferum are white, are those suitable for extracting opium while when we pass to other varieties of poppy, then the seeds are used to produce other plants, excellent for decorating environments being also beautiful to look at. For those interested in hallucinogens, however, they are not good.

Opium poppy in Italy

The largest producers of opium poppy today are the farmers from Afghanistan, thanks also to the Indo-European climate which favors the growth of this kind of plant. Even in Italy, with certainly not comparable numbers, we find the opium poppy together with other spontaneous varieties such as Papaver rhoeas (Rosolaccio) and the white poppy, the latter not in a spontaneous state.

Opium poppy: is it legal?

There are discussions on this and certainly Afghanistan is considered, as already mentioned, the world’s and almost exclusive supplier of opium poppy. The one produced there arrives in Europe through Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, or through Central Asia and the Russian Federation, once it arrives in Europe, it is mainly distributed by countries such as England, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Just to get an idea, among the alkaloids of opium and its semisynthetic derivatives we find substances with a name known even to non-experts such as morphine, heroin and codeine. Methadone and pethidine are synthetic opioids. To learn more about the opium poppy, here is a book: "The flower of the underworld. Opium poppy and the ancient world ”, with history, stories and curiosities on the subject.

Opium poppy seeds

To understand how they are born the seeds, let's start from flowers which are born isolated and are hermaphrodites, moreover they are devoid of nectar, but up to 10 cm in diameter. The two sepals that form the flowers, fall when the petals open and detach from the base, remain i four petals.

They can have very bright colors, the most frequent are white, pink, lilac and red, also with purple spots at the base. After the flowers come the fruits, that is the capsules in which we find the seeds. They are kept in them and fall only if the wind blows hard.

For the availability of seeds and other information on ornamental poppies, the page is available:grow poppies.

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Video: How to collect opium from poppy heads? Harvesting (May 2022).