[Name of obscure derivation, by some said to be derived from the Celtic papa, thickened milk, in allusion to the milky juice of the plants,]
"And thou, by pain and sorrow blest Papaver, that an opiate dew Conceal'st beneath thy scarlet vest, Contrasting with the Corn-flower blue; Autumnal' months behold thy gauzy leaves Bend in the rustling gale amid the tawny sheaves." - Mrs. C. Smith.
This genus is well known as furnishing a valuable medicine as well as for its ornamental plants. Opium is the dried juice of Papaver somniferum, from which Laudanum, Morphine, etc., are prepared. The seeds -of the Poppy are without narcotic properties, and are used as food. The Poppy produces a great number of seeds, for which reason Cybele, the mother of the gods, is represented crowned with Poppy-heads as a symbol of fecundity. The species of this genus are all showy, with large brilliant flowers.
This, in its natural state, has large single flowers, which soon fall away and are succeeded by a capsule, which, when wounded, exudes a milky juice that, on drying, becomes Opium. The double varieties, or Hybrid Poppies, are very ornamental. Picotee Poppies, are improved varieties with white flowers, spotted or splashed with crimson, scarlet, or purple, and very handsome and double. The Peony-flowered have very large, full double flowers, of rich colors and shades of crimson, purple, scarlet, rose, white, variegated, bordered, etc. A bed of these Poppies makes a grand show. All the varieties are easily cultivated from seed. None of them can be transplanted with success.
Corn Poppy or African Rose - A common weed, among grain on gravelly soils, in England; but, in its double and semi-double varieties, it is one of the handsomest of garden annuals, sporting into different varieties of scarlet, crimson, purple, pink, white, variegated, and parti-colored flowers, continuing all summer in bloom. The odor of the flower renders it unpopular. The flowers are exceeding beautiful and delicate. The single variety of the common kind is of a bright scarlet, with a deep purple eye in the center, which the poet supposes to be upon the look-out for Ceres:
"And the Poppies red, On their wistful bed, Turn up their dark-blue eyes to thee."
This is a magnificent perennial, worth all. the rest of the Poppy tribe. Its large, gorgeous, orange-scarlet flowers, display themselves in the month of June. The bottoms of the petals are black; the stigma is surrounded with a multitude of rich purple stamens, the anthers of which shed a profusion of pollen, which powders over the stigma and the internal part of the flower, giving it a very rich appearance.
The flower-stems are rough, three feet high, each oue bearing a single, solitary flower, five or six inches in diameter. A clump, with twenty or thirty of these flowers, makes one of the most conspicuous and showy ornaments of the garden. Leaves are rough, pinnate, serrate. Propagated by dividing the roots, which should be done as soon as the foliage has died down in August, as it commences growing again in September, and throws up leaves which remain during winter, it being one of the most hardy plants. If division be deferred until spring, if it blooms at all, the flowers will be weak. It may also be propagated from seed, but does not commonly flower until the third year. A native of Levant.
A native of Siberia; is another superb perennial, very much like the last. The flowers are of a deeper red, and the only essential difference is in the leafy bracts, by which the flowers are subtended. Propagated in the same way; with us, it has not flowered so freely. There are also a number of other species and varieties of perennial Poppy, as P. nudicaule, from Siberia, with two or three varieties with yellow, and one with scarlet flowers, one to one and one-half foot high.