The poppy is a harmless plant until it is reduced to its chemical components. Morphine, codeine, heroin, and opium are all products of the not so innocent poppy seed which in its altered form transforms into a powerful painkiller, sleeping aid, and hallucinogen. The corn poppy came to be regarded as a symbol of death, as this would be the only plant able to thrive in the blood-soaked earth of a disturbed battle field. Used for both medicinal and magical purposes, the poppy was a prevalent plant in history. Healers and drug addicts alike depended on its mind altering qualities.
This hardy annual grows up to four feet in height, and does best when exposed to full sunlight. The poppy prefers well drained soil, and should be sown in spring or fall. Simply press the seed into the earth, and let mother nature do the rest. Field poppy should be sown in the fall since plants require colder temperatures to germinate. Once seedlings appear, thin plants to twelve inches. The poppy flowers grows poorly indoors. Only the seed is harvested, and this is done when the capsule is ripe. To preserve, dry the heads, then gently shake to remove the seeds. These should be stored in an air tight container.
The plant is a cheerful addition to any garden, and its bright red blooms make a pleasant addition to any vase. The seeds are sprinkled o breads, cakes, and biscuits adding a nutty flavor to the mix. It can be added to curry powerder to add texture, and flavor. Some individuals will extract an oil from the seeds for culinary purposes, however this does require vast amounts of material, so its not for the everyday gardener.
Birds love poppy seeds, and if allowed will eat them directly out of the dried flower bud. It can be added to wild bird mixes during winter months for another source of beneficial fat.