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Papaver Somniferum, Danebrog / Danish Flag Poppy


Eye-catching bloom, a brilliant white Maltese cross against brightest true red fringed petals.

The opium poppy is a very ornamental plant that is often cultivated in the flower garden. In cool temperate zones the plant does not produce sufficient of the narcotic principles to make their extraction feasible and cultivation of the plant is perfectly legal in Britain. Plants have ripened their seeds as far north as latitude 69°n in Norway.

The seed yields 44 - 50% of an edible drying oil. Very good for lighting, it burns for longer than most oils. The oil is also used in paints, soap making etc.

Prefers a rich well-drained sandy loam in a sunny position. Requires a moist soil but does not do well on wet clays. Prefers a sandy loam or a chalky soil.

Plants often self-sow in British gardens. Sow spring or autumn in situ.

This plant contains a number of very toxic compounds, many of which are extracted and used as pain killers etc in medicine. They are also used to make various highly addictive narcotic drugs. However, in the cooler climate of Britain these compounds are not formed in sufficient quantity to make their extraction worthwhile. There are no toxins in the seeds.

Edible uses
Seed - raw or cooked. Much used as a flavouring in cakes, bread, fruit salads etc, it imparts a very nice nutty flavour. The crushed and sweetened seeds are used as a filling in crepes, strudels, pastries etc. Highly nutritious, the seed contains about 22.7% protein, 48% fat, 9.8% carbohydrate, 7.1% ash. It is also a good source of lecithin. The seeds are rather small, but there are large numbers of them contained in capsules 3cm or more in diameter and so they are easy to harvest and utilize. The seeds are perfectly safe to eat, containing very little if any of the narcotic principles. However, although the seeds contain no narcotic alkaloids, analysis of the urine following their ingestion may produce similar results to the analysis of the urine of morphine or heroin addicts.

Edible young leaves - raw or cooked. They must be used before the flower buds have formed. In some countries they are eaten at the seedling stage. One report says that the leaves do not contain any narcotic principles. Some caution is advised, see notes at top of the page.

A high quality edible drying oil is obtained from the seed. It has an almond flavour and makes a good substitute for olive oil.

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