An inspissated gummy juice, which is obtained chiefly from the white poppy of the East (papaver somniferum). It may also be obtained, but in a small quantity, from the other species of poppy. It is imported from Persia, Arabia, and other warm parts of Asia, in flat cakes, covered with leaves, to prevent their sticking together. It has a reddish brown colour, and strong peculiar smell; its taste is at first nauseous and bitter, but this soon becomes acrid, and produces a slight warmth in the mouth. In Turkey the white poppy is in great cultivation, for the purpose of affording opium. After the flowering of the plant, when the capsule containing the seed has arrived at its full growth, slight longitudinal incisions are made in the capsules towards the evening. A milky juice oozes out, which is collected the next day. The excess of moisture being evaporated in the sun, it assumes the consistency fitted for making it into cakes, in which state it is found in commerce. This is called Turkey opium, to distinguish it from another kind brought from the East Indies, which is generally softer than the Turkey, of a darker colour, less bitter, and more disagreeable to the taste, and has an unpleasant empyreumatic smell.
When opium is soft and friable, of a blackish colour, and has an empyreumatic smell, it is bad: its taste should be bitter, but not sweet.