Poppy Herb - Corn poppy | Field poppy | Flanders poppy | Papaver rhoeas

Poppy, Corn poppy, Field poppy, Flanders poppy, Papaver rhoeas, herb

Papaver rhoeas Papaveraceae Also called Corn poppy, Field poppy, Flanders poppy

Characterised by their blood-red, papery flowers and delicate hairy stems, poppies are annuals ciften seen growing wild on the edges if fields. The leaves are highly serrated and form large rosettes at the base of the flower stems. The fruit is an oval-shaped capsule enclosing hundreds if tiny black seeds

Parts used

  • Petals
  • After they have been carefully gathered and dried in May and June, the petals are used to make infusions and powder for capsules.
  • Poppy flowers are a common ingredient in syrups.
  • The flowers may be mixed with other plants that have similar qualities, such as lime, lavender and passionflower.


Suited to well-drained soil and a sunny location. Grow from seed.


Poppy petals contain mucilage, anthocyanins and a small amount of alkaloids, which constitute 0.07 per cent of the plant, the main one being rhoeadine. These exert similar but milder effects than those found in the opium poppy. The seed capsules of the plant are never used because they contain toxic alkaloids, but the seeds are used in cooking and are safe in small amounts.


For internal use

TO TREAT hoarseness, dry coughs
INFUSION Put 2 teaspoons (about 1.5g) of flowers into a cup of boiling water. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes and filter. Take 2 or 3 cups a day. Sweeten, if you wish, with honey. TINOURE Take 15 drops in water three times a day after meals.

Medicinal uses

The mucilage content of the petals has a soothing effect on the lining of the throat. Preparations with a base of poppy petals, often combined with blue mallow and marshmallow, provide an effective treatment for dry coughs and hoarseness.

Poppy possesses antispasmodic and sedative effects and is prescribed to treat the symptoms of nervous tension, particularly mild insomnia, in adults and children. It is also reputed to aid digestion and possesses mild analgesic qualities.

A French study performed in2001 demonstrated the sedative effects of the plant. Analysis of the extract used showed the presence of anthocyanins but no alkaloids.

Traditionally, the common poppy has been used to treat cardiac rhythm abnormalities in adults whose hearts are otherwise healthy.


TO TREAT mild insomnia INFUSION Drink 1 cup at night before going to bed. CAPSULES (375mg) Take 1 or 2 capsules before going to bed. TINOURE Dosage as above.


  • It is best to consult a medical herbalist before taking the plant.
  • Keep out of reach of children. Cases of poisoning after ingesting poppy syrup have been recorded.



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