Papaver rhoeas, also known as the common poppy, corn rose, corn poppy, field poppy, red weed, Flanders poppy, red poppy, coquelicot, and, due to its odor, and headwork (because of its odor that allegedly causes a headache) is a flowering plant of the herbaceous species, belonging to the poppy family, Papaveraceae.
This specie of poppy used to be popular as an agricultural weed. Still, after World War I, it was used as a symbol of deceased soldiers.
Before the creation of herbicides, the common poppy was sometimes so abundant in farmlands that it could easily be mistaken for a crop. However, the only species of the Papaveraceae plant that is grown as a field crop on a massive scale is the opium poppy, also known as Papaver somniferum.
Table of Contents
- Description of the common poppy
- Cultural usage of the common poppy
- The common poppy as a symbol
- The common poppy in Persian literature
- Fun facts about the common poppy
Description of the common poppy
The common poppy is a plant that forms a long-lived soil seed bank that can spring up (germinate) when the soil is bothered.
In the northern hemisphere, this plant generally flowers in the late part of spring, but if for some reason the weather becomes warm enough, other flowers often appear at the beginning of autumn.
This plant grows up to around 70 cm in height. The flowers are showy and large, 50 to 100mm across, with four petals that are bright red, most often with a black spot at their bottom side.
The flower stem is often covered with rough hairs that are held at right angles up, helping to differentiate it from Papaver dubium, which has its hairs usually appressed. The capsules are obovoid in shape, and hairless.
They are also less than twice as long as they are wide, having a stigma at least as wide as their capsule. Like several other species of Papaver, this plant drips off white to yellowish latex when the tissues are broken.
Cultural usage of the common poppy
Due to the amount of ground disturbance in warfare at the time of World War I, there was a massive bloom of the corn poppies in between no man’s land and the trench lines on the Western front.
Poppies are a very prominent aspect of “In Flanders Fields” by the Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. This English-language poem was one of the most frequently quoted poems composed during the First World War.
As of the 20th century, people wore a poppy before and at Remembrance Day every year as it became an established custom in most English speaking western countries around the world.
It is also symbolic of some other dates in many other countries, such as at appeals for Anzac Day in New Zealand and Australia.
This poppy has become so significant that it appears on several coins, postage stamps, banknotes, and even on national flags, including:
- Canadian twenty-dollar note (2012) and Canadian ten-dollar note (2001)
- Two hundred lei (Romanian banknote)
- Some commemorative Canadian twenty-five cent coins in 2004 and 2008
- Great Britain commemorative stamps 2000-2009: 2007
- 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme
- The common poppy was voted as the county flower of Norfolk and Essex in 2002 following a poll carried out by the wild plant conservation charity Plantlife.
The common poppy is one of the most beautiful wildflowers that grow in Ireland and is known to bursts into life from early June to September.
These flowers of scarlet red color can set the whole countryside on lovely red fires, growing in ditches, cornfields, and wastelands. Several pictures of such a view from a distance abound, and they can be breath-taking.
However, when you walk up close to them, you will find out that these lovely flowers are a really delicate one.
A circular group of the plant’s stamens (this is the male part of the flower that is made up of long stalks bearing pollen sacs on top) is known to grow in the middle of the poppy. They are shielded by the red, thin, crinkly petals, which are naturally silky to touch.
The stem of the common poppy plant is long and quite hairy, and its leaves are very deep green with rough edges.
The common poppy as a symbol
A Long ago in Ireland, the common poppy was called the witch’s flower. This unlikely title for a beautiful plant is where the Irish name for the common poppy ‘cailleach dhearg’ comes from. It translates in English to ‘red hag.’
Sometimes poppies are also seen as a flowery symbol of death as a result of their blood-red color.
Poppies are most popular today as the flower that is worn on Remembrance Day in Britain. Because they grew in the fields of Flanders almost immediately after the battles of the First World War, they become symbolic and are worn in memory of all the war heroes and soldiers who passed away in that war.
The common poppy in Persian literature
In Persian literature, the common poppies or red poppies, mostly the red corn poppy flowers, are symbolic as the flower of love. Most times, they are often referred to as the eternal lover flower.
More interesting is that in classic and modern Persian poems, the common poppy is used as a symbol of people who died for love.
In Urdu literature, the common or red poppies, also called “Gul-e-Lalah,” are usually a symbol of love, and sometimes martyrdom.
Fun facts about the common poppy
Did you know that the common poppy has its petals sheds after just one day?
If you had a single poppy plant, you might notice the flowers shed, but if you lived in front of an entire field of poppies, you would probably never know that the petals fall off because a single common poppy plant can have more than 400 flowers that bud one after another.
It is interesting to think that an individual poppy plant can produce around 50,000 seeds. What is even more interesting is that these seeds can survive underground for up to eighty years!
Today, poppy seeds are commonly used in baking and are usually sprinkled on top of loaves of bread to give it a nice crunch and extra flavor.
The bud of a common poppy looks like a vagina when slightly open
Many poems commonly interchange ‘poppy’ and ‘tulip.’
We hope that this article has been useful. Kindly leave a comment.