Herbs Guide

White Poppy

Family Name: Papaveraceae

Botanical Name(s): Papaver somniferum

Popular Name(s): Opium Poppy, Mawseed.

Parts Used: The capsules and flowers

Habitat: Papaver somniferum is native to the Middle East. Now it is grown in China, India and Afghanistan also.

Description: Papaver somniferum is an erect, herbaceous, annual plant and reaches a height of 30-120cm. The leaves are lobed and possess a blue tinge. The plant varies in colour of its flowers, as well as in the shape of the fruits and in colour of the seeds. Poppy seeds are small hard grains and are kidney-shaped. The seeds mature in a capsule left after the flower fades. The capsules vary much in shape and size. They are usually hemispherical but are depressed at the top.

Uses: Papaver somniferum has hypnotic, sedative, astringent, expectorant, diaphoretic and antispasmodic properties. It is frequently used to relieve pain and calm excitement. It is effective in diarrhoea and in dysentery also. It is a valuable drug. The two principal alkaloids of it, Morphine and Codeine, are used in medicine.