Papaver somniferum, Linne, and var. album, DeCandolle.
The air-dried, milky exudation obtained by incising the unripe capsules, containing, when moist, 9.5 p. c. of anhydrous morphine.
Syn. Opium Poppy, White Poppy, Poppy, Maw (Black, Blue) Seed Poppy, Cheesebowl, Marble-flower; Meconium, Lachryma Papaveris, Succus Thebaicus, Opium Thebaicum, Thebaica; Fr. Opium de Smyrne - thebaicum, Pavot officinal; Ger. Opium, Mohnsaft.
Pa-pa'ver. See etymology, page 232, of Papaveraceae.
Som-nif'er-um. L. somnus, sleep, + ferre, to bring - i. e., produces sleep.
Al'bum. L. albus, white - i. e., the flowers.
O'pi-um. L. fr. Gr.
poppy or vegetable juice.
Plants. - Erect annuals; stems .6-1.3 M. (2-4°) high, 12 Mm. (1/2') thick, solid, smooth, glaucous, green, branched; roots yellow, thick, branched; leaves thick, ovate, cordate, variously toothed, sessile, 15-25 Cm. (6-10') long, dull green, paler beneath, glaucous, prominent veins, white wide midrib; flowers, Feb.-March, few, large, 7.5-17.5 Cm. (3-7') broad, terminal, silver-gray; sepals 2, green; petals 4, white (yellow, violet); stamens numerous; fruit capsule, 3-5-20 on each plant, nearly globular, 2.5-7.5 Cm. (1-3') broad, filled with laticiferous vessels, flat top and bottom, smooth, glaucous neck; pericarp yellowish, dehiscing by small apertures beneath stigmatic crown; seeds numerous, small, white (gray, violet, black). Exudation (opium), in more or less rounded, mostly somewhat flattened masses of variable size, usually 8-15 Cm. (3-6') broad, grayish-brown, covered with fragments of poppy leaves and at times Rumex fruits, adhering from the packing; more or less plastic when fresh, becoming hard and brittle on keeping; internally dark brown, interspersed with lighter areas, somewhat lustrous; odor characteristic, narcotic; taste bitter, characteristic. Solvents: diluted alcohol; diluted acids; boiling water. Dose, gr. 1-2 (.06-13 Gm.).
Adulterations. - Sand, stones, clay, ashes, shot, bullets, charcoal, gypsum, litharge; flour, starch, gums (acacia, tragacanth), sugar, molasses; aloes, pitch, resins, extract of capsules and herbs (Papaver, Lactuca, Glycyrrhiza, Chelidonium), pulp of apricots, figs and grapes;
Fig. 144. - Papaver somniferum: 1, ovary with few remaining stamens; 2, ripened capsule; 3, seed; 4, longitudinal section of seed.
camel's dung, pounded capsules, leaves, stems, moisture, exhausted opium.
Commercial. - Plant was known to the ancients, Homer mentioning it (poppy) as a medicine and as grown in gardens for strikingly ornamental flowers - a popularity still enjoyed. Seldom found wild as it requires rich soil and manure, timely rains, exact tillage and care until the yielding stage, being planted like our wheat, Sept.-Oct. - winter crop, or (when resowing is necessary through injury from absence of snow as a protection) Feb.-March - spring crop. Cultivation occasions great variability, the stronger, those having whitish petals and seeds, and large capsules (var. album) degenerating into the weaker, those having pink, red, purple, blackish petals and seeds, and small capsules (var. nigrum), and while all parts yield milk-juice the leaves and seeds are without alkaloids, the former being used natively as spinach, the latter for the 50-60 p. c. of bland yellow oil - an acceptable substitute for olive oil in painting, cookery, pharmacy, etc. Opium is collected chiefly in Asia Minor, Egypt, India, etc., May-July, by making into the unripe pale yellow or light green capsule, a few days after the flower falls, one or more transverse or spiral incisions (longitudinal in Japan, India) with a several bladed knife (nushtur), wetted occasionally with saliva or oil to prevent adherence. The incisions, owing to laticiferous vessels lying just beneath the epidermis, must be only sufficiently deep to obtain all the juice (not through the inner capsular diaphragm which would cause its loss by escaping into the centre of the capsule, as well as damage to seeds and plant), and are made by men, women, and children in the afternoon, yielding at once the white exudation that soon concretes into tears and turns brown by next morning, when it is scraped off (often with 5-8 p. c. of capsular epidermis and other tissues - Smyrna) with a blunt knife onto a poppy or Rumex leaf held in the left hand; upon the mass becoming uncomfortably weighty the leaf margins are infolded, then further wrapped if necessary with fresh leaves and dried in the shade for several days, sufficient to avoid moldiness - a very common defect. At this stage collectors may simply press together the separate masses, when a lens easily reveals the agglutinated tears - granular opium (Asia Minor, Persia), or the tears may be reduced in a mortar to a uniform mass - homogeneous opium (Egypt, India), or the pure juice may be mixed with an aqueous extract of spent capsules and leaves, etc. Small growers dispose of their product to interior merchants, who, to prevent sticking, pack it with Rumex capsules in bags, which are sealed, placed in baskets, and forwarded to Smyrna, Constantinople, etc., where it is sold upon physical examination - color, odor, weight, consistence, and appearance affording usually a correct estimate - and transferred to the buyer's underground warehouse to prevent evaporation, or to further cure and manipulate. There are several varieties: 1, Asia Minor (Turkey - P. somniferum, + var. album and gla'brum): (a) Smyrna - most common in our market; in round, flat lumps, 1/2-2 pounds (.2-1 Kg.), tears like seeds on inside, also capsular epidermis 5-8 p. c. - evidence of no manipulating, kneading; yield 10-13 p. c. of morphine; (b) Constantinople - resembles Smyrna in coming from the same northern opium districts of Anatolia, but without tears and capsular epidermis; in round, flat lumps, 1/2-3 pounds (.2-1.2 Kg.); yield 10-13 p. c. of morphine; extract 50 p. c.; from same port also comes the rich opiums of Geve, Magnesia, Salonica, Bithynia, Amasia, Malatia, in packages 1-5 ounces (.03-15 Kg.); 2, Egyptian (P. somniferum, + var. glabram); in flat, roundish cakes, 2.5-15 Cm. (1-6') broad, 2-10 ounces (.06-.5 Kg.), harder, redder, darker and less tenacious than the Smyrna, brittle, conchoidal fracture, waxy lustre, no Rumex capsules; not much produced, seldom enters our market; yield 6-7 p. c. of morphine; 3, Persian (Trebizond - P. somniferum, + var. album); usually wrapped in glossy paper having Chinese characters, tied with cotton thread and packed in poppy refuse, cylindrical sticks (resembling mint-candy), 7.5 Cm. (3') long, 12 Mm. (1/2') thick, 1/2-3/4 ounce (15-23 Gm.), or short, rounded cones, balls 6-10 ounces (.18-.3 Kg.), or flat circular cakes, slightly agglutinated, liver-brown like Egyptian, soft in damp weather, very bitter, oily from linseed oil (instead of spittle) used on incising knives; more crystals than Asia Minor; largely doctored; exported to Europe, United States, but mostly to China; yield 8-12 p. c. of morphine; 4, E. Indian; wrapped in oiled paper or hard coating of leaves and poppy petals agglutinated with extract of the plant and juice - Provision opium; or molded into flat, square, circular cakes - Abkari opium; owing to moisture (dews) and delay in making up often ferments, yielding a hard brittle blackish product showing oily spots and conspicuous crystals; does not enter our market - consumed extensively in China; yield 5-7 p. c. of morphine - usually rich in narcotine, 3-4 p. c.; extract 70 p. c.; 5, Chinese; wrapped in white paper, flat darkish globular cakes, prepared no doubt by artificial heat, less oily than Persian, entirely consumed at home; annual production 40,000,000 pounds (18,181,800 Kg.), double the combined output of the other varieties, in addition to which the natives consume all of the Indian and much Persian in their vicious practices of smoking and chewing.