Opium poppy

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Opium poppy
Opium poppy.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Kingdom Plantae
Division Information
Division Magnoliophyta
Class Information
Class Magnoliopsida
Order Information
Order Ranunculales
Family Information
Family Papaveraceae
Genus Information
Genus Papaver
Species Information
Species P. somniferum
Binomial name Papaver somniferum
Population statistics

The Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum "the sleep-bringing poppy") is used in the manufacture of opiates such as morphine, codeine,and heroin, while its seeds are used as a food item, often sprinkled on baked goods. It is also grown in some European countries as a purely ornamental plant. Possession of any part of non-low morphine Papaver somniferum other than the seed is illegal in the United States and the plant is listed as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration.[1]

In the United Kingdom, the Home Office has granted pharmaceutical company Macfarlan Smith a licence to harvest the poppies and extract the opiate compounds, and they are now grown as a cash crop by English farmers in Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire to combat a critical shortage of morphine in National Health Service hospitals.[2] Worldwide, there is an acute shortage of opium poppy-based medicines, which are on the World Health Organization's list of essential medicinal drugs. Illegal opium growth in Afghanistan has been used to fund terrorism and supply 90% of the worlds heroin.[3] Some groups are calling for the legalization of opium in Afghanistan to curb the worlds morphine shortage.[4]

History of Cultivation

An opium poppy field near Didcot power station, Oxfordshire, U.K.

See also


  1. Drug Scheduling #9650 DEA Accessed July 16, 2007
  2. Phillips, Rhodri and Wigmore, Barry The painkilling fields Mail on Sunday July 15, 2007; accessed July 16, 2007
  3. DeYoung, Karen Afghanistan Opium Crop Sets Record Washington Post Accessed July 17, 2007
  4. Report Gives Green Light For Licensed Opium In Afghanistan To Provide Essential Medicines Senlis Council Accessed July 17, 2007