top of page
Jerusalem Artichoke - Helianthus tuberosus - Earth Apple - Whitecliff Park St. Louis MO US

Episode 2. Papaver

Episode 2. Papaver: Podcast Script and Resources

Legends say, spirit moves through time within dreams,

Where creation may communicate messages to be seen.

Premonitions travel to tell of blessings and warnings alike

Dreamer, listen, and visualize the scenery.

Tell me what you can see.

I see poppy flowers

The bed on which messengers lay,

Seeds must be planted to grow.

That is what legends say

Welcome to Sunflower Guru. Episode 2, Papaver, Breadseed Poppy, Corn Poppy, and Flanders Poppy.

Apart of the Papaveracea family, the Latin word "Papaver" means "to swell", referring to the swelling seed capsules as they mature. The Latin word "papa" means "milk" referring to the latex that protrudes from the plant when it is broken or cut. Papaver somniferum is directly related to the Latin translation meaning "Sleep bringing poppy"

We're covering medicinal, culinary cultivations, growing conditions, history, opium, identification, and a special Mason Poppy Bee called Haplitis papaveris which uses poppy petals to adorn the entrance to their home.

This podcast is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute providing medical advice or professional services. Information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating health conditions. Consultee with a licensed physician before implementing lifestyle changes.

Opium poppy is derived from the variety Papaver somniferum. and has been cultivated since antiquity for thousands of years as one of the few known pain killers.

Papaver somniferum has been cultivated since the Neolithic ages according to archaeologists.

Known as the "Joy Plant" to Sumerians, who passed it onto the Assyrians and then to Egyptians.

"Milk of the poppy" was prescribed on Egyptian papyrus scrolls, combined with honey to calm crying babies.

Egyptians used poppies as a rotation crop in agriculture, giving nutrients to soil and growing grains.

Known as the "daughter of the fields" or the "life-blood" of the soil and fertility.

Egyptian art depicts poppies as a symbol of eternal life and was buried with mummies.

One of the earliest recordings of Opium prescription was recorded in a Sumerian clay tablet around 2100 B.C., prescribing it's analgesic use in surgery.

A Greek Minoan statue found in Gazi dated around 1500 B.C. adorns a woman with poppies in her hair with sedated eyes, and erected breasts erect symbolizing their benefits to fertility.

Nearly all Papaver plants may be used for medicinal applications in the form of essential oils, tinctures, food, flour extract, slaves, cosmetics, shampoos, conditioner, UV protecting lotions, you name it.

An expanse of scientific studies display anti-inflammatory properties, the nurturing of the reproductive system, nervous system, intestinal system, and may help to treat respiratory ailments, be cytotoxic to cancer cells, and may act as a sedative, narcotic, and analgesic, all harboring aphrodisiac qualities.

With all this good, A specific cultivation has historically shown to bring onslaught within nations andeconomic destruction due to addictive abuse of opium medicine.

Strangely enough, it wasn't until the 15th century that ANY record of addiction or dependance with opium was recorded Hmmm.

"Milk of the poppy" is harvested from spherical seed pods a week after petals have fallen.

Immature poppy pods are sliced by a shallow multi-blade razor, the latex oozes out to be harvested the next day when it is dried, this process is repeated several times with each pod.

This black goo is pure opium that may be stored in cool, dry environments with an incredible shelf life.

Opium medicine may act as an analgesic, cough suppressant, a sedative especially used in surgery, may be anti-diarrhea, and anti-inflammatory.

Opium contains around 12% of morphine which acts directly with the central nervous system to relieve pain. Opium contains over 50 different types of alkaloids.

In 1803, a Garman pharmacist named F.W. Serturner brewed the drug Morphine from opium. The name inspired from the Greek God of Sleep named Morphius.

Mature pods have stigmatic rays that appear disk like and are self-seeding. Pain-killing alkaloids no longer produce once the pod is mature.

An opium elixir, Laudanum, is made with Sherry, opium and spices, created in the late 16th century by British apothecary Thomas Syndenham.

Laudanum was adopted by most pharmacopeias and sold to the common people by the pint.

Commonly utilized as a sleep aid, sedative, and for toothaches in teething toddlers.

Dosage may be administered by the drop, 5-30 drops depending on levels of pain.

Opium is illegal in many countries including Thailand.

Opium is legal for pharmaceutical use in Australian Canada, India, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Holland, France, Hungary, Iran, Poland, Romania, Spain, and Central and Southern America.

It is legal to grow Papaver somniferum, the opium poppy, in the United states but illegal to manufacture opium from the poppies.

An era violence, force, and manipulation from the British East Trading Company was known as Chinas "century of humiliation", riddled with unequal treaties, greed, and destruction.

Opium was persistently smuggled into China despite the countries efforts to rid the drug.

The sale of Opium was banned in 1729, China had become dependent and economically vulnerable to The British East Trading Company which became the most powerful and profitable traders of their time.

They were brutal and unforgiving, controlling land, politics, and money of the nations. Chinese citizen adopted a crippling addiction to smoking opium which ignited the "Opium Wars".

The British East Trading Company persisted, opening missionary churches to veil the smuggling of opium.

War broke out between Britan and Chinese war ships in 1839 and ended when Chinese officials were held at gunpoint in 1842 and forced to sign the Treaty of Nanjing in favor of the British.

China suffered greatly while imports rose up to 82,000 chests of opium.

China began manufacturing their own opium in attempts to regain control. This lead to the second war in 1860.

Chinese immigrants brought opium smoking into the United States during The Gold Rush and opened up opium dens in San Francisco's Chinatown spreading all the way to New York.

In Flanders Fields – John McCrae

1872 – 1918

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

This poem is in the public domain.

John McCrae was a Canadian doctor and teacher who served in World War I.

Opium was widely used by medics and soldier during the first and second world wars.

Meadows of red poppies would spring up in ravaged fields after battle and quickly became a symbol of honor of those fallen in battle.

Since 1921, poppy flowers have been worn on the lapel on Memorial day in respect to the soldiers and families effected by the war.

Papaver is truly a plant of polarities.

One with a colorful past and is capable of so much good.

We have yet to discuss specific medicinal and edible uses, along with our Poppy Mason Bee, Haplitis papaveris.

There are over 149 accepted species of Papaver plants.

Hardy to zones 2 - 10, an herbaceous perennial, biannual, or annual with naturalizing abilities in a expanse of ecosystems and has a life cycle of 120 days.

It is said that Papaver somniferum originates from Turkey, while Papaver rhoeas originates from Europe and Asia, while some reports track poppies to modern day Iraq and Kuwait.

Natural growth ay be found in open disturbed areas, dry evergreen forests, and along streams and valleys. They thrive in well-draining, moderately moist loam or silt soils that may be nutrient dense or deficient with a pH between 6 - 8.

Papaver may grow in sand if provided enough water and they may grow in clay soils however their deep tap roots may find it difficult to penetrate. Papaver rhoeas has been used along roadsides to help stabilize soils and prevent erosion due to their taproots.

Poppies are intolerant to drought and do not enjoy water-logging conditions. Water stress in early development may affect alkaloid accumulation in the capsules sufficient water is necessary to harvest medicinal alkaloids

Growing conditions greatly affect chemical constituents that are present in the plants. Whether that be soil type, sun exposure, elevation, and water alike.

Papaver plants grow to be 6in - 5ft tall depending on the variety and how much sun they have available. Afternoon shade is beneficial in hot tropical areas.

Chemical Constituents and phytochemical composition may drastically vary given plant variety, growing conditions, and extraction methods.

Extraction include type of solvent, extraction time, temperature, and which parts of the plant that are used (all parts of the plant may be used to make medicines).

Extracts display effective bioactivities in the form small nanoparticles which penetrate more readily into the bacterial membrane, better defeating bacterial cells, membrane leakage, and oxidative stress.

The constituent Papaverine exhibits anticarcinogenic and antitumor qualities as a first-line anticancer medicine. Showing dose-dependent anticancer properties in prostate cancer while enhancing permeability of the blood-brain barrier to work against tumorous growth.

The constituent Noscapine has been studied as an anti-carcinogenic, effective in treating skin cancer cell line (A-431) inducing 80 % cell death and inducing structural change in human serum albumin protein, while displaying activity with epithelial ovarian, prostate, and colon cancer cells SW480 cells, blocking the liver-intestine cadherin (CDH17) gene. Colon Cancer cell SW480 was decreased while upregulating cell expression levels of cleaved-poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase and cleaved-capse-3, inhibiting cell-proliferation. Qualities show promising use against cancers of the breast, liver, prostate, bone, colorectal, and fibrosarcoma.

The constituents Sanguinarine, and Berberine may also have anti-carcinogenic qualities.

With chemotherapeutic agents for treating cancers that may be multi-drug resistance.

The constituent Thebaine binds to the mu-opioid receptors within the central and peripheral nervous systems, overall reducing nociceptive transmission. Morphine codeine, oxycodone, and buprenorphine are mostly derived from Thebaine.

The constituent Romerine has shown anti-microbial activity against bacteria S. aureus and C. albicans.

Poppy varieties P. somnifera, P. rhoeas, P. bracteatum, P. strictum, and P. blansa are commonly eaten.

Seeds are rich in magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, copper, zinc, iron, manganese, antioxidants, Vitamin E, carotenoids, chlorophyll, phytochemicals, polyphenols, phytosterols, phospholipids, linolic acid, essential amino acids which are the building blocks to protein, Omega 3, 6, and 9's, high fiber content may help boost the immune system, strengthen bones and joints, protect the organs, heart, lungs, liver, the digestive system, neurological system, is said to increase learning and memory, promote healthy skin and healthy sleep, balance cholesterol, all while protecting mitochondria,

Seeds have a nutty flavor that pairs well with both sweet and savory culinary dishes, closely resembling the taste sesame seeds that enriches when roasted.

Pastas, soups, sauteed dishes, salad dressings, lemon poppy seed muffins, poppy seed bagels, and as a garnish, pretty much anything.

The flavor pairs well with onions, garlic, citrus, almond, walnut, vanilla, cinnamon, and creams.

Try sprinkling poppy seeds over eggs while they're cooking in the morning with liquid aminos, onion, and fresh sprouts on top.

In general poppies should be safe to eat in moderate quantities of 3-8 tbs. a day but may cause gastric distress if consumed in excess.

Harvested seeds are preserved in cool, dry environments.


Unwashed poppy seeds are said to have pain killing alkaloids still on them, however when they're washed, they don't have any.

Poppy seed tea is used in Ayurvedic medicine to sooth and calm the body, improve sleep, relieving constipation, nourishing reproductive organs and kidneys, intestinal system, and nervous system, acting as an astringent, soothing tense muscles, and treat lung ailments such as asthma and cough while clearing nasal passageways and supporting the lungs.

Boiled capsules were used by Iran and Turkey healers to treat diabetes.

Tea does not have strong phycological effects.


Seeds may be milled into a marketable gluten free, high protein and nutrient rich flour for culinary use.


Edible and cosmetic oil may be cold-pressed from poppy seeds.

Jugs resembling upside down poppy pods were found in the Mediterranean with residues of opium and poppy oil dating back over 3,000 years. The oil could've been used for anointing, spiritual ritual, or as a perfume.

Medicinally poppy seed oil has been studied to regulate the nervous system and the absorption of nutrients in the brain, helping in memory and cognitive function.

Used topically and internally, the oil may improve cell and tissue repair, accelerating the healing of wounds, while acting as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and may protect from UV radiation damage. Many have used Papaver seed oil in homemade sunscreen lotions as it may lend a hand in treating skin cancers.

Topical applications of this lightweight oil may improve skin and hair elasticity with a glossy finish while it creates a protective barrier that may help treat eczema, itchiness of the skin, dryness, dandruff, and may be added to body oils, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and lip balms.

The oil may protect from macular degeneration, help balance cholesterol and blood glucose levels, lowing cortisol levels and reducing the risk of heart ailments.

The oil may be used as a cooking oil, retaining medicinal qualities in high heat.

The light nutty flavor pairs well with both sweet and savory dishes.

Make into salad dressings at a 1:1 ratio of poppy seed oil and lemon juice. Blend with onion, cilantro, parsley, honey, or mustard to taste.

Another cool thing (that may not be recommend to eat) is to make a buttery "short" pain that is used in wet-to-wet absorbent canvases and elongates the drying the of added pigmentations.

Seed Cake:

The dry bi-product from cold-pressing seed oil is called the seed cake.

The seed cake is gluten-free and highly nutritious edible for humans and animals alike.

Glutamic Acid is a predominant protein building block of the seed cake, which is paired with branch chain amino acids Laucine, isoleucine, and caline which may be of interest to body builders.

Vitamin E, Calcium, polyunsaturated fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, and essential short chain fatty acids such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate may contribute to building muscles, healthy bones, and a balanced gut microbiota.

Baspartic acid may help to excite neurotransmitters and stimulate focus.

Keep in mind, poppy is toxic to cats and dogs if consumed in high quantity. Symptoms may include increased salivation, agitation, reduced apatite, respiratory distress, nausea, diarrhea, weakness, drowsiness, and in extreme cases, tremors, paralysis, convulsions, slow heart rate, dilated pupils, unconsciousness, coma, and even death. The variety P. somnifera may be most poisonous due to high alkaloid content of opium and morphine. Activated charcoal could be administered within two hours of ingestion to help counteract the poison in the blood stream. A vet may administer artificial respiration for severe breathing difficulty or anticonvulsant medication.

California Poppy rarely is poisonous unless consumed in excess. Sheep and goats do not have noticeable reactions when consuming poppy, however cattle may be.

Cold hardy seeds are small circular, black, blue, or white with a gently pitted surface; spread easily when the pod is disturbed through pores above the pod base and beneath the rayed disk; they may sprout when temperatures are around 55F and emerge in 7 - 30 days.

It takes 8 weeks for the plant to grow up to 2 feet tall from a cabbage-like plant which genetically vary from parent plants.

Foliage is flat, curvy, pubescent, and deeply serrated and lobes that are connected midrib growing directly from the stem, alternate green leaves become paler towards the bottom of the strong, thin, hairy stem.

Both stem and leaves are crisp when crushed, oozing a milky sap that may be white, yellow, or pale orange pink, turning black or dark brown when dried.

There is generally one or two blooms per stem.

Flowers bloom after 90 days from sprout, usually around March - June.

Wispy flower petals appear in two whorls surrounding the ovary, the outer whorl larger in size.

Numerous stamens complement the 3–6-inch petals which appear in colors all over the rainbow; Black, orange, red, burgundy, lavender, purple, and white.

Poppies flowers last well in floral bouquets.

Some may use flower petals to brew a syrup, studied to potentially act as an aphrodisiac while soothing mild tooth pain, sore throat, earaches, the digestive system, all while improve skin health.

Powdered petals may be used as a colorant for foods and cosmetics.

Aqueous and alcoholic extracts may be used to help treat and prevent skin cancers when used in topical applications, commonly added to homemade sunscreen lotions and cosmetics.

Plant seeds in spring in colder climates, and in the fall in warmer climates so seeds endure cold stratification.

Poppies may be grown in containers if the environment resembles outdoor conditions, roots do not transplant well and are better sown in their permanent location.

Companion plant with nitrogen fixers in full sun growing conditions.

In landscape design, blooms that emerge after poppies have died back are great companions; tulips, cleome, and primrose may be great companions.

Do not plant near Brassica plants like cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, leafy mustards, and cabbages. Brassicas require fertile soil and lots of water, which may be more than what poppies prefer.

The nutrient Boron is vital for structural growth of plants, if deficient, plants may have stunted growth or be split along the stem, the plant may become dark violet in color with blue seed heads and deformed capsules. Worm castings are rich in both zinc and boron. Coffee grounds spent apple-cores, beans, and potatoes are especially useful in compost for poppies.

No serious pests or are observed.

Flowers are especially pollinated by the Poppy Mason bee (hoplitis papaveris).

The black dwarf honeybee, butterflies and hummingbirds also enjoy poppies.

However, they are deer and ribbit resistant.

Pollen from Papaver rhoeas has been studied to be antiviral. Components like luteolin, nudicauline, and cheliathifoline were found to reduce a virus's ability to spread.

Hoplitis papaveris, the Poppy Mason Bee, is a medium sized bee with a black body and with yellow-brown hairs cuts a poppy flower petal to size with their mandibles to then decorate their brood cell entrance that is usually in sandy soil, making a bright (usually red) lining.

The show notes will have some YouTube links observing this phenomena.

Antennae are usually short; and have a polished terminal surface on the midfield of their abdominal segment, called the propodeum.

The section of an arthropod other than the head is called the tergum. On hoplitis papaveris, it was observed the 7th terigite has a forked edge, while the 6th is strongly curved.

Populations have been seen all over the globe with Europe and South Africa having the highest spotted numbers.

Hoplitis papaveris is listed in the National Red List and Red Data Books in Germany, Netherlands, Czech Republic, and Switzerland, being potentially endangered or near threatened; the Poppy bee adds to biodiversity in an ecosystem and therefore is of noticeable concern to policymakers and conservationists.

Hoplitis papaveris: the bee that makes homes in the sand with papaver flower petals.

Poppy bee cutting pieces of Poppy Petal with its mandibles, Germany

A short sequence showing the behavior of a Poppy bee, Bamberg, Germany.

Murarka makowa (Hoplitis papaveris) - wycinanie maku

Dzikie pszczoły Polski: murarka makowa (Hoplitis papaveris)

Dzikie pszczoły Polski: murarka makowa (Hoplitis papaveris) - wycinanie płatków maku

Ohh my goodness we have talked about so much in this episode, I'm gnna have to listen to it twice!

Ancestry, History, Medicine, Edibility, Cultivations, and our special Poppy Mason Bee.

It's worth mentioning caution should be heeded when using poppies because they may be just as dangerous as they are good.

Medicinal applications are dose dependent and may even cause death if abused in both internal, topical, and smoked uses. Poisoning symptoms may include sluggishness, abdominal contractions, and sedation. Prolonged abuse of opium or derived drugs may cause memory and reasoning disfunction, delayed wound healing, and sleep disorders. Do not use if allergic to hazelnut, rye grain, kiwi, sesame, or buckwheat. Consuming poppy seeds may result in a false positive drug test due to their pain-killing alkaloids.

You've been listening to Sunflower Guru Episode 2. Papaver

If you enjoyed this episode, consider supporting the show on Patreon @SunflowerGuru

All resources and references are provided in the show notes.

Remember, seeds must be planted to grow.

Till next time.

YouTube links:

Buddy Popp Song 1935

Brief history

History of Opium Poppy

The Wisdom of Poppies by Ricky Tims <3

In 1600 the British East Indies IS trading company took over most of the opium and spice production in India. They later used opium to gain control of China. (The East Indiamen by Russell Miller)

Poppy as a painkiller

This Plant Is Dangerously Addictive


Plants | Free Full-Text | Morphology, Taxonomy, Anatomy, and Palynology of the Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum L.) Cultivation in Northern Thailand ( (Ngernsaengsaruay) (Wearn)

1 view0 comments


bottom of page