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Papaver orientale (oriental poppy)

Few hardy, herbaceous flowers are more spectacular than the oriental poppy, a perennial that has long been popular in cultivation.
white flower of oriental poppy

Papaver orientale (oriental poppy) (Photo: James Morley)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Papaver orientale L.

Common name: 

oriental poppy

Conservation status: 

Not known to be threatened.

Habitat: 

Mountain meadows and on mountain screes.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental.

Known hazards: 

Contains alkaloids; toxic if eaten hence avoided by grazing animals.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Ranunculanae
Order: 
Ranunculales
Family: 
Papaveraceae
Genus: Papaver

About this species

Papaver orientale is a perennial poppy with large, red or orange flowers and bristly leaves. It has been a popular garden plant since it was introduced to western Europe in 1714. Many cultivars are now available, including those with white (P. orientale ‘Perry’s White’), pink (P. orientale ‘Mrs Perry’), deep crimson (P. orientale ‘Beauty of Livermere’) and purple (P. orientale ‘Patty’s Plum’) flowers. Many cultivated varieties of oriental poppy are hybrids between P. orientale and P. bracteatum.

Synonym: 

Calomecon orientale

Genus: 
Papaver

main info

Courses at Kew

Kew offers a variety of specialist training courses in horticulture, conservation and plant science.

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