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.
The dried juice (latex) from the unripe green seed vessels is a rich source of the active alkaloids, including morphine. It is extracted by making shallow incisions in the capsules as soon as the petals have fallen. Care must be taken that the incisions do not penetrate to the interior of the seed capsules. The latex exudes from the capsules and dries in contact with the air - it is then scraped off. This latex is anodyne, antitussive, astringent, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, hypnotic, narcotic and sedative. As well as its pain-relieving properties, the latex has also been used as an antispasmodic and expectorant in treating certain kinds of coughs, whilst its astringent properties make it useful in the treatment of dysentery etc.A homeopathic remedy is made from the dried latex. This is used in the treatment of a variety of complaints, including constipation, fevers and insomnia.
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The opium poppy is a very ornamental plant that is often cultivated in the flower garden. There are many named varieties, some of which have been developed for their edible uses. The plant is widely grown, often illegally, in warm temperate and tropical climates for the substances contained in its sap. These are often used medicinally as pain killers, especially in the treatment of terminally ill patients suffering extreme pain, they are also used for their narcotic effects by some people. These substances are highly addictive and lead to a shortening of the life span if used with any frequency. 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[K]. Plants have ripened their seeds as far north as latitude 69°n in Norway.Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits.
Problems, pests & diseases
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