Opium Poppy
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Opium Poppy
ntroduced Photo: Sobhapati Samom
Common name: Opium Poppy • Bengali: পস্তো Pasto • Hindi: अफ़ीम Aphim, ख़शख़ाश Khash-khash • Kannada: ಅಫೀಮು Afim, ಬಿಳಿಗಸಗಸೆ Biligasgase, ಗಸಗಸೆ Gasagase, ಕಸಕಸೆ Kasakase • Malayalam: afium, avin, karappu, kasakasa • Marathi: afu, aphu, khuskhus, posta • Sanskrit: Aaphuka, अहिफेनम् Ahifenam, Ahiphena, अफेनम् Afenam • Tamil: abini, gashagasha, kasakasa, postaka • Telugu: abhini, gasagasala, gasagasala-chettu • Urdu: Aphim, Khashkhash • Nepali: अफिम Aphim
Botanical name: Papaver somniferum    Family: Papaveraceae (Poppy family)

Opium poppy is the plant from which opium and poppy seeds are extracted. It is an annual herb, 1-2 ft tall (up to 1.5 m in cultivation). Taproot is erect, almost conical. Stems are erect, glaucous, hairless. Alternately arranged leaves are ovate or oblong, 7-25 cm, both surfaces hairless, glaucous and rather waxy, with veins distinct, slightly raised, base heart- shaped, margin irregularly wavy-toothed, tip long pointed to blunt. Lower leaves are shortly stalked but upper ones are stalkless and stem-clasping. Flowers occur singly, deeply cup-shaped, 5-12 cm in diameter, born on long stalks up to 25 cm. Flower buds are nodding at first, erect when the flower opens fully, oval-oblong or broadly ovoid, 1.5-3.5 × 1-3 cm. Sepals are 2, green, broadly ovate, margin membranous. Petals are 4, white, pink, red, purple, or various, often with a dark basal blotch, roundish, 4-7 × 3-11 cm, margin wavy or variously lobed. Stamens are many, with white filaments 1-1.5 cm. Ovary is green, spherical, 1-2 cm in diameter, capped by stigmas united into compressed star-like disk. Capsule are brown when mature, spherical or oblong-elliptic, 4-9 × 4-5 cm. Seeds are many, black or deep gray. Poppy seeds are commonly used in both North and South Indian Cusine. They are called "khuskhus" in Hindi, "gasagasalu" in Telugu, "gasagasa" in Kannada, and "posto dana" in Bengali. Poppy seeds can be dry roasted and ground to be used in wet curry (curry paste) or dry curry.
Medicinal uses: Poppy is one of the most important medicinal plants. Traditionally, the dry opium was considered an astringent, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, diaphoretic, expectorant, hypnotic, narcotic, and sedative. Poppy has been used against toothaches and coughs. The ability of opium from poppy to serve as an analgesic is well known. Opium and derivatives of opium are used in the pharmaceutical industry as narcotic analgesics, hypnotics, and sedatives. Opium and the drugs derived from opium are addictive and can have toxicological effects.

Identification credit: Sobhapati Samom Photographed in Ukhrul distt, Manipur.

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