This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Showy annual and perennial herbs with lobed or dissected leaves and milky juice. Flowers on long peduncles, nodding when in bud. Sepals usually 2. Petals 4 or more. Stamens numerous. Ovary 1-celled; style short or obsolete; stigma discoid, with radiating lobes opposite the placentas, which project in towards the centre of the ovary. Capsule opening by pores; seeds numerous, small, pitted. About a dozen species are known, from Europe, North Africa, and Asia, one extending to South Africa, and one to Australia. Though the genus is poor in species, these are very prolific in varieties. The etymology of the word is obscure.
1. P. orientale. - A handsome plant, 3 or 4 feet high. Stems supporting one large scarlet or orange-scarlet flower with a dark crimson spot at the base of the petals. P. bracteatum (fig. 28), syn. P. pulcherrimum, is a variety in which the sepals are. foliaceous and persistent, and the flowers much larger. A native of Western and Central Asia.
2. P. alplnum. - A dwarf plant, less than a foot high, native of the mountains of Europe from the Alps to Lapland. Leaves pinnate, glaucous. Flower-stems leafless, hispid, one-flowered. Flowers large and showy, bright orange-yellow or white. P. nudicaule is an allied Arctic species or variety, and P. Pyrenaicum is a handsome dwarf variety with trailing leaves and orange-coloured flowers.
3. P. somniferum. Opium Poppy. - A tall glaucous glabrous species growing 3 or 4 feet high, with oblong variously lobed amplexicaul leaves and numerous large single or double flowers of many colours, white, rose, lilac, violet, often striped, and usually with a darker spot at the base of the petals, the latter fringed in some varieties. It is believed to have origin-ally come from Persia or India.
Fig. 28. Papaver bracteatum. (1/4 nat. size.)
4. P. Rhoeas (fig. 29). - This is the common Corn Poppy, whose large brilliant scarlet flowers are familiar to everyone in the South of England. Under cultivation it has produced innumerable varieties, both double and single, of different colours. It is a smaller plant than the preceding, and very distinct from it in its pin-natid hispid leaves.
Fig. 29. Papaver Rhoeas, flore pleno. (1/4 nat. size.)