I have always loved poppies, so this week I did a deeper dive into the history, symbolism and uses of this sought after plant!
The Poppy Pod
A Poppy Pod is a flowering herbaceous (relating to herbs) plant that is part of a much larger subfamily called Papaveroideae. The poppy was domesticated by the indigenous people of Western and Central Europe a very long time ago – like a really, really long time ago. The flowers of the poppy species are very attractive and are widely cultivated as annual or perennial ornamental plants. Aside from their coveted colorful blooms, poppies are known to carry a multitude of other meanings and purposes.
Poppies have long been used as a symbol of sleep and peace; the opium extracted from them is a sedative, so naturally it became a symbol of tranquilization and eternal sleep. Do you remember the household children’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? The magical poppy field evoked this idea of eternal sleep and threatened to make Dorothy sleep forever! Thankfully this is more related to mythology, but still it’s fun to learn about!
Since a species of the poppy is known to contain opium, Ancient Egyptian doctors would have their patients eat seeds from a poppy to relieve pain. What a fun fact! Poppy seeds actually contain small quantities of both morphine and codeine, which most of us know are pain-relieving drugs that are still used today.
Fun facts, right?