Family, Poppy. Color, white or bluish purple. Sepals, 2, thin, falling after the flower appears. Petals, 4. Numerous stamens. Style short, and stigma broad, overhanging the ovary. Leaves, alternate, divided, clasping, cut, toothed. Fruit, 1 inch in diameter, opening by chinks under the edge of the stigma. Stem, from 1 to 3 feet high, somewhat hairy. Buds droop on the stem; the flower is erect. Late spring and summer. (Listed also under Purple Group, p. 310.)
This is the opium poppy, cultivated so largely in Turkey and India.
The part of the plant used in commerce is the milky juice which exudes from the capsules. These are carefully cut in the evening, and the juice is collected next morning. When sufficient liquid has been gathered on one dish, it is drained and evaporated, made into round balls, and placed on slats to dry. The opium balls are then ready for market.
Opium contains morphine, narcotine, codeine, the baine, papaverine, etc. Its use in medicine is well known. The Romans understood its medicinal properties. Virgil speaks of the plant, and of its sleep-producing capacities.