POPPY, a genus of plants known botanically as Papaver, the type of the family Papaveraceae. They are annual and perennial erect herbs containing a milky juice, with lobed or cut leaves and generally long-stalked regular showy flowers, which are nodding in the bud stage. The sepals, which are usually two in number, fall off as the flower opens, the four (very rarely five or six) petals, which are crumpled in the bud stage, also fall readily. The numerous stamens surround the ovary, which is surmounted by a flat or convex rayed disk bearing the stigmas. The ovary develops into a many-seeded short capsule opening by small valves below the upper edge. The valves are hygroscopic, responding to increase in the amount of moisture in the atmos phere by closing the apertures. In dry weather the valves open, and the small seeds escape through the pores when the capsule is shaken by the wind. The genus contains about 110 species, mostly natives of central and south Europe and temperate Asia. Five species occur in Great Britain; P. Rhoeas is the common scarlet poppy found in fields and waste places. Cultivated forms of this, with exquisite shades of colour and without any blotch at the base of the petals, are known as Shirley poppies. P. som niferum, the opium poppy, with large white or blue-purple flowers, is widely cultivated. (See OPIUM.) The Oriental poppy (P. orientale) and its several varieties are fine garden plants, having huge bright crimson flowers with black blotches at the base. Many hybrid forms of varying shades of colour have been raised of late years. The Iceland poppy (P. nudicaule), is one of the showiest species, having grey-green pinnate leaves and flowers varying in colour from pure white to deep orange-yellow, orange-scarlet, etc. The Welsh poppy (M. cambrica) belongs to an allied genus, Meconopsis; it is a per ennial herb with a yellow juice and pale yellow poppy-like flowers. It is native
in the south-west and north of England, and in Wales; also in Ireland. The prickly poppy (Argemone grandiflora) is a fine Mexican perennial with large, white flow ers. To the same family belongs the horned poppy, Glaucium flavum, found in sandy sea-shores and characterized by the waxy bloom of its leaves and large golden yellow short-stalked flowers. The plume poppy (Bocconia cordata and B. micro carpa) are ornamental foliage plants of great beauty. The cyclamen poppy (Eomecon chionantha) is a pretty Chin ese perennial, having roundish slightly lobed leaves and pure white flowers about 2 in. across. The Mexican tulip poppy (Hunnemannia fumariaefolia), a perennial usually grown as an annual, has very showy yellow flowers.
The poppy group is well represented in western North America, especially in Cali fornia, where about 20 native species, to gether with numerous varieties, are found.
The best known is the California poppy (Eschscholtzia california), with brilliant, orange-coloured flowers, widely grown in gardens and extensively naturalized in Australia and India. Other noteworthy Californian species, more or less cultivated, are the tree poppy (Dendromecon rigida), a rigid, leafy shrub, 2 to io ft high, with golden-yellow flowers, about 2 in. across; the Matilija poppy (Romneya Coulteri), a widely branched sub shrub, 3 to 8 ft. high, with large, white; fragrant flowers, 6 in. across ; the cream-cups (Platystemon californicus), a low, deli cate annual, with light yellow flowers, i in. across; and the flam ing poppy or wind poppy (Papaver heterophyllum), bearing brick red flowers, 2 in. across.