Poppy Flowers – Historical Significance

Poppy Flowers – Describing the Species

Poppy flowers are any of a number of showy flowers belonging to the poppy family. They include a number of attractive wildflower species with attractive blooms found growing singularly or in large groups. A great many species are also grown in gardens for ornamental value.

Those that are grown in gardens include large plants used in a mixed herbaceous border and small plants that are grown in rock or alpine gardens. Many colors are available, ranging from white to red to blue, although red and orange poppy flowers are typically favored.

The center of the flower has a whorl of stamens surrounded by a cup or bowl shaped collection of four to six petals. Prior to blooming, the petals are crumpled in a bud. As the blooming concludes, the petals often become flat before falling off to the ground.

Poppy Flowers – Historical Significance

Poppy flowers have long been used as a symbol of both sleep and death. They are associated with sleep because of the opium that is commonly extracted from them, and death because of their usually blood-red color. In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead. Today, poppy flowers are used as emblems on tombstones to symbolize eternal sleep.

The poppy flowers of wartime remembrance are the red corn poppies. These poppies are a common weed in Europe and are found in many locations, including historical Flanders Fields. The significance results from the fact that poppy flowers are so hardy that they spring up even on war-torn battlefields. After the particularly damaging battle at Flanders, the appearance of poppy fields came to become symbolic with the lives of the honored dead.

In many Commonwealth countries, artificial paper or felt versions of this poppy are worn to commemorate the sacrifice of veterans and civilians in the Great War and World War Two. This is usually done during the week leading up to Remembrance Day on November 11. It has been adopted as a symbol by The Royal British Legion in their Poppy Appeal program.

Poppy Flowers – Opium

Opium is a resinous narcotic formed from the latex released by wounding the immature seed pods of opium poppies. It contains up to 16% morphine, an opiate alkaloid, which is most frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the black market.

Although the drug opium is produced by “milking” latex from the unripe fruits (“seed pods”) rather than from the seeds, all parts of the plant can contain or carry the opium alkaloids, especially morphine and codeine. This means that eating foods (e.g., bagels) that contain poppy seeds can result in a false positive for opiates in a drug test.

Growing Poppy Flowers

There are a wide variety of annual and perennials that are enjoyable in the garden. If given full sun and well-drained soil, poppy flowers thrive in the average garden. Once planted and allowed to set seed, this plant will pop up here and there seemingly forever; the seeds are very long-lived.

Some advice for growing poppy flowers or other plants is to make sure that you adhere to their sun requirements. Too much shade can hinder growth and result in stunted or dead plants. Well-drained soil means that an abundance of water will rot the roots, so you need to make sure that it doesn’t pool around the flowers.

Combining various colors or mixing them with other species can result in beautifully contrasting arrangements in your garden that will be the envy of friends and neighbors alike. You can create something very easy to love this way, thus transforming your yard into a place you’ll want to spend time in.

When preparing the soil, it is best to mix in some pre-prepared topsoil sold at garden centers. You’ll also want to mix in manure, which can provide added nutrients and minerals for poppy flowers and other plants. Don’t use peat moss in this case, as it is designed to contain water – not something you want for a well-drained garden.

Poppy Flowers as Gifts

Poppy flowers make great gifts, both on Remembrance Day and other occasions. The best place to acquire them for this purpose is your local florist. Stop by their shop and browse the various floral arrangements and bouquets that they have available, or share with them an idea for a customized creation. They’ll be able to work with you to create something that the gift recipient will greatly respect and enjoy.

Enjoy the convenience of online shopping using their website, which allows you to browse inventory, make secure payments, and arrange for delivery to home or far-off destinations. Same-day domestic delivery guarantees mean that your poppy flowers and other plants will arrive fresh and on time – every time.

This can be very convenient for busy people, as you can complete the entire process without having to leave your home or garden.

Copyright (c) 2008 Brant Florist

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One Response to Poppy Flowers – Historical Significance

  • Nell says:

    The red poppy in Canada is associated with the Fallen, those who serve in our military and die in its uniform – the War Dead of Canada, whose names are inscribed in our national Books of Remembrance, and have individual identity files on our electronic Virtual War Memorial. Nothing to do civilians; we haven’t had that kind of war.
    The lapel replica is trademarked to the Royal Canadian Legion since WW2, and used by it as a fundraiser for ex-service personnel, our military veterans and related charitable activities.

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