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Common Poppy Papaver rhoeas

The botanical name is made up of Papaver, the Latin for food or milk and rhoeas the Greek for red.

The showy scarlet flowers are 7-10 cm in diameter and bear four rounded, overlapping, papery petals, which are usually vibrant blood red and often have a dark blotch at the base.

Papaver rhoeas is an attractive and popular feature of the countryside, and has long been recognised as a symbol of fertility and death. It has been adopted as a symbol of remembrance since 11th November 1921 when the Royal British Legion held its first ‘Poppy Day’.

The common poppy suffered a decline with the advent of intensive agriculture and the increasing use of herbicides after the Second World War, but had a revival in Britain in the 1980s as a result of the policy of ‘set-aside’ in which farmers were rewarded for taking agricultural land out of production.

It also has a long history of medicinal use. The flowers have been used in treating mild pain caused by earache, toothache and neuralgia, and an infusion of the petals is traditionally taken for coughs, insomnia and poor digestion.

Papaver rhoeas is the County Flower for Essex and Norfolk.

You can adopt a seed from this species for £250. Your donation will be used towards the work of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, ensuring this species is kept safe in the vaults forever, and to collect more species in the future.

In addition to receiving your adoption pack featuring your certificate and photograph of the species (this will be posted to you, or the recipient), you will be invited to the County Flower sponsor's event at the Millennium Seed Bank, Wakehurst where you can meet the staff and see the vaults where your species is stored.

If you have any questions, please contact Jill Taylor on 020 8332 3248 or

Thanks to Peter Gasson for the images.

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