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Toxic parts

This plant is toxic to mammals, though the toxicity is low[1]. The seed is not toxic[1].

Edible uses


Seed - raw or cooked. Much used as a flavouring in cakes, bread, fruit salads etc[2][3][4][5], it imparts a very nice nutty flavour[K]. The seeds are rather small, but they are contained in fairly large seed pods and so are easy to harvest. The seeds are perfectly safe to eat, containing none of the alkaloids associated with other parts of the plant[6].

Leaves - raw or cooked[7][8]. Used like spinach or as a flavouring in soups and salads[9][5]. The leaves should not be used after the flower buds have formed[7]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[10][2]. Said to be an excellent substitute for olive oil[2][5], it can be used in salad dressings or for cooking[10]. A syrup can be prepared from the scarlet flower petals, it is used in soups, gruels etc[2][5].

A red dye from the petals is used as a food flavouring, especially in wine[5].

Unknown part



Material uses

A red dye is obtained from the flowers[7][11][12], though it is very fugitive[2]. A syrup made from the petals has been used as a colouring matter for old inks[2][13][14]. The red petals are used to add colour to pot-pourri[6].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The flowers of corn poppy have a long history of medicinal usage, especially for ailments in the elderly and children[15][16]. Chiefly employed as a mild pain reliever and as a treatment for irritable coughs, it also helps to reduce nervous over-activity[16]. Unlike the related opium poppy (P. somniferum) it is non-addictive[15]. However, the plant does contain alkaloids, which are still under investigation, and so should only be used under the supervision of a qualified herbalist[15].

The flowers and petals are anodyne, emollient, emmenagogue, expectorant, hypnotic, slightly narcotic and sedative[2][7][17][13][11][18]. An infusion is taken internally in the treatment of bronchial complaints and coughs, insomnia, poor digestion, nervous digestive disorders and minor painful conditions[17][6]. The flowers are also used in the treatment of jaundice[19]. The petals are harvested as the flowers open and are dried for later use[6]. They should be collected on a dry day and can be dried or made into a syrup[2]. The latex in the seedpods is narcotic and slightly sedative[20]. It can be used in very small quantities, and under expert supervision, as a sleep-inducing drug[7]. The leaves and seeds are tonic[20]. They are useful in the treatment of low fevers[20].

The plant has anticancer properties[19].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow spring or autumn in situ[21].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Papaver rhoeas. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Prefers a well-drained sandy loam in a sunny position[22][21]. Does not do well on wet clay soils but succeeds in most other soils[23].

Plants usually self-sow freely when growing in suitable conditions so long as the soil surface is disturbed[6]. There are several named varieties selected for their ornamental value[21]. A polymorphic species, varying in leaf shape and flower colour[24]. When growing in cereal fields, poppies decrease the yields of nearby cereal plants[25][26].

Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[27].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Papaver rhoeas. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Papaver rhoeas.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Papaver rhoeas
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type

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    1. ? 1.01.1 Cooper. M. and Johnson. A. Poisonous Plants in Britain and their Effects on Animals and Man. HMSO ISBN 0112425291 (1984-00-00)
    2. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Mabey. R. Food for Free. Collins ISBN 0-00-219060-5 (1974-00-00)
    4. ? 4.04.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    5. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    6. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    7. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Larkcom. J. Salads all the Year Round. Hamlyn (1980-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Bianchini. F., Corbetta. F. and Pistoia. M. Fruits of the Earth. ()
    10. ? Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    11. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    13. ? Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-33545-3 (1975-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Polunin. O. and Huxley. A. Flowers of the Mediterranean. Hogarth Press ISBN 0-7012-0784-1 (1987-00-00)
    15. ? Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs Pan Books Ltd. London. ISBN 0-330-30725-8 (1990-00-00)
    16. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    17. ? Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
    18. ? 18.018.1 De. Bray. L. The Wild Garden. ()
    19. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    20. ? Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
    21. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    22. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    23. ? Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain. ()
    24. ? 24.024.1 Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)
    25. ? Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants. Watkins (1979-00-00)
    26. ? Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Garden Way, Vermont, USA. ISBN 0-88266-064-0 (1978-00-00)
    27. ? Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants J. M. Dent & Sons, London. ISBN 0 460 86048 8 (1990-00-00)

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