Archive for the ‘Papaveraceae – Poppy family’ Category

California Poppy – Eschscholzia californica

California Poppy
California Poppy

This native of the western United States throughout California, extending to Oregon, southern Washington, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and in Mexico in Sonora and northwest Baja California likes poor, sandy soils to grow in.

The US Formulary of 1918 says of this plant:

“Attention has been brought to this California member of the Papaveraceae, as a powerful- herb for calming and supporting sleep”

Native American tribes from different parts of California used this plant for many medicinal purposes especially as a calming agent. The Pomo tribes (from areas north of what is now Sacramento) reportedly used the crushed seeds as a topical application, while the Mendocino used a root preparation as an external cleansing agent. It was used by the Costanoan tribes (from what is now Monterey) to promote healthy sleep (Soporific) and rubbed a decoction into the hair to kill lice. It has a long tradition of use in Western Botanical medicine as a Nervine and Trophorestorative (promotes nutrition uptake at the cellular level).

Several Native American tribes boiled the plants or roasted them on hot stones to be eaten as a green. The seeds were used in cooking. Some caution has been recommended when using this plant since it belongs to a family that contains many poisonous plants.

The California poppy is the California state flower. It was selected as the state flower by the California State Floral Society in December 1890. A natural food coloring, poppy petals also makes a fugitive (doesn’t last) dye that can be good for making “photos” on paper. Extract the color from the petals with alcohol.  Paint on paper. You can then place a positive (instead of a negative) like a piece of lace, a paper cutout, or a leaf over the paper and set it in a sunny place for a week. The parts that are covered will remain purple, and the rest will fade. This process was used experimentally in the 1840s before photographs as we know them were invented. It produces what is called an anthotype

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Corn Poppy – Papaver rhoeas

Corn Poppy
Corn Poppy

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

– John McCrae

A hardy annual native to Europe, but has been naturalized throughout the United States

The foliage is said to have been used as a vegetable, and the syrup prepared from the petals has been employed as an ingredient in soups and gruels.

Attempts have also been made to utilize the brilliant red of the petals as a dye, but the color has proved too fugitive (unstable) to be of use. The syrup has, however, been used as a coloring matter for old ink.

This plant normally has red petals, which were an ingredient in Syrup of Red Poppy, a sedative and a cough suppressant for children. The corn poppy is also known as the field poppy, the Flanders poppy or the red poppy. It contains rhoeadine, a sleep-inducing and pain-relieving alkaloid similar to (yet safer than) opium alkaloids. The crimson flowers of this plant are traditionally used to make a soporific tea. To prepare this infusion, add 1 to 2 tsp. of dried petals to a cup of hot water. Allow the mixture to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Consume the infusion before going to bed.

Iceland/ Arctic Poppy – Papaver nudicaule

Iceland Poppy
Iceland Poppy

A boreal flowering plant that is native to the sub polar regions of Northern Europe and North America. The flowers are large, papery, and bowl shaped with a light sweet fragrance. All parts of the plant are considered poisonous containing toxic alkaloids.

The flowers and seed capsules are mildly diaphoretic. Leaves – cooked are very agreeable to the taste, the leaves are a good source of vitamin C. Like other poppies they contain opium, but in low levels compared to other poppies. Caution in consumption is advised.

Red and beige dyes are obtained from the flowers. Yellow and brown dyes are obtained from the flower pods