Specification & Spread

Poppy seed cases — capita papaveris
Opium poppy — papaver somniferum
Poppy family — papaveraceae.

It is an annual cultivated herbaceous plant 1-1.5 m tall with a rachidian root system.
The stem is erect, branched at the top, densely leafy, rounded, naked and covered with a bluish waxy bloom.
The bottom leaves are short, elliptical or lanceolate, large-serrate or notched-laciniate along the edges with sharp-toothed margin, 20-30 cm long.
The stem leaves are broadly elliptic or ovate, 10–20 cm long, with an unevenly large-toothed margin, sessile, stem-wide, bare, bluish-green due to wax bloom.

The flowers are solitary on tops of the shoots and with double right perianth. The buds before the flowers open are drooping and naked. The calyx contain 2 leathery sepals falling when the flower blooms. The corolla is a dialypetalous, consists of 4 wide petals of various colours (from white to dark-violet). At the base of the petals there is a large dark spot. There are lots of stamens, the ovary is upper.
The fruit is a capsule of ovoid or almost spherical shape, 2-5 cm in diameter, opened in holes. At the top there is an expanded sessile multipath ligneous stigma in the form of a disk. First the capsule is green, juicy. In ripen stage it is yellow and dry as straw.
The seeds are numerous, very small, reniform, from almost white to gray-black.

All parts of the plant contain white laticifer containing alkaloids, its most in immature capsules. Poppy seeds are edible, do not contain laticifer and alkaloids. It blossoms in June, seeds ripen in July – September.

Opium poppy is not found in the wild. The plant country is unknown.

Opium poppy as an oleaginous and medicinal plant has been known since ancient times. For the first time it began to be cultivated in Asia Minor and Greece, then India, Iran, Turkey, China and other countries. Since prehistoric times, poppy seeds have been cultivated for various purposes: in some countries, poppy has been cultivated mainly to obtain seeds, in others – in order to produce opium, which is a dried laticifer of unripe capsules. There are oil and opium varieties of poppy. Oil-bearing varieties are distinguished by relatively small capsules and blue, gray or almost black seeds, and opium seeds – by large capsules and light yellow or white seeds.

The main crops of opium poppy were in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Before the revolution, olive poppy was cultivated in Ukraine and in the Voronezh province. In addition to these areas, it was cultivated in Bashkiria, the Samara region, in the south of Western Siberia and in the Krasnodar Territory.

At present, opium poppy culture is banned everywhere by decisions of international organizations, except for the «golden triangle» region in Southeast Asia (South-West China, Burma and Thailand).


At the beginning of the fruit ripening in the air-dry aerial parts contain up to 20% of dry laticifer – opium.

It contains in the form of salts of meconic and sulfuric acids 10-25% of the amount of isoquinoline alkaloids, about half of which is morphine (the rest of the amount of alkaloids is codeine, papaverine, thebaine, etc.).

In mature oilseed capsules, morphine content is 0.3-0.5%.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. Previously, opium and oilseed poppy varieties were harvested as they mature, threshed, and seeds were separated, dried and briquetted. Opium is currently imported for the production of opium alkaloids.

Properties and application

Opium and opium poppy capsules are used as raw materials for morphine and codeine alkaloids.
Morphine has a strong analgesic effect and is a narcotic analgesic, used for injuries, various diseases accompanied by severe pain (myocardial infarction, malignant neoplasms, etc.).

Codeine reduces the excitability of the respiratory center, is used as an antitussive, is a part of the complex preparations.
With repeated use of preparations poppy alkaloids may be the phenomenon of addiction (drug addiction).
Thebaine is derived from various derivatives used as narcotic analgesics.

Poppy seeds are widely used for the manufacture of various confectionery. It contains up to 50% fatty oil, second only to sesame and castor bean.

  • Children up to 2 years old and elderly people,
  • people suffering from constipation.
  • Cholelithiasis