Papaver

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Papaver

 

(poppy), a genus of annual, biennial, or perennial plants of the family Papaveraceae. There are approximately 100 species, distributed predominantly in the northern hemisphere. One species, the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), is cultivated for its seeds, which contain vegetable oil and opium. The species has eight subspecies, of which five are grown in the USSR. Papaver s. eurasiaticum includes mostly forms cultivated for their oil. Papaver s. tianshanicum, Papaver s. songorium, Papaver s. tarbagataicum, and Papaver s. chinense are grown for opium. Some species, such as the perennial Oriental poppy (P. orientate) and the annuals P. nudicaule (Iceland poppy) and P. rhoeas (corn poppy), are grown as ornamentals. Corn poppy grows as a weed among crops in the southern USSR.

The opium poppy grows to 80-150 cm tall. Throughout the plant there are vessels that contain a milky juice. The root is rod-like and extends into the soil to depths of 70-120 cm. The stem is erect and slightly branched. The leaves are amplexicaul, with the lower ones elongated and gathered into a rosette and the upper ones ovate or oblong-ovate. In forms raised for opium, the leaves are thick and sometimes leathery; in those cultivated for oil, they are thin. The stem and leaves are glaucous. The flowers are large, solitary, and four-petaled. In opium forms they are usually white or violet, and in oil forms red-violet, light pink, or light violet with dark spots. The fruit is a usually indehiscent capsule, which measures 2-5 cm in diameter and 2-6 cm high. In opium forms, the capsule is thick-walled, unsegmented, and smooth; in oil forms, it is thin-walled, segmented, and nodular. The seeds are very small, with 1,000 of them weighing 0.24-0.45 g (each capsule weighs 3-5 g). The seeds, which are rounded or kidney-shaped, are light yellow or white in the opium varieties and light blue, gray, or gray-black in the oil varieties.

The vegetative period of poppies is 85-135 days. The seeds begin to germinate at 2°-3°C; the shoots can tolerate frosts of 3°-4°C. The optimum temperature from shoot development to flowering is 10°-15°C, and from flowering to seed maturation 20°-25°C. Poppies require the most moisture during the period from sowing to flowering; between flowering and maturation they develop well in dry, sunny weather. The best soils are chestnut and chernozem (sandy loams and loams).

The seeds of oil forms contain 46-56 percent fatty oil and up to 20 percent protein. Poppy-seed oil is used in the confectionery and canning industries, in the production of perfume, and in the manufacture of paints. The seeds of the oil varieties, especially the light blue seeds, are used in bread-making and by the confectionery industry. Poppy-seed oil cakes are a valuable fodder for livestock. The fruits yield alkaloids. The principal active substances in opium are morphine, codeine, and papaverine.

Poppies are presumably native to the Mediterranean region. Their cultivation spread to Greece long before the Common Era and then into the lands of Asia Minor. Oil varieties have been cultivated in what is now the USSR since the 11th century. They were first grown as kitchen-garden plants, and since the 19th century they have been raised as field crops. Opium forms have been cultivated in Middle Asia for many centuries. Oil varieties of poppy are grown primarily in Europe (Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Netherlands, France). In the USSR, poppy plantings are concentrated in the Ukraine, the Volga Region, some regions of the central chernozem zone, and Kazakhstan. The average harvest of seeds is 6-8 centners per hectare (ha); on the best farms the average seed harvest is up to 20 centners per ha. Regionalized varieties are raised; in 1972 six oil varieties (Novinka 198, Start) and six opium varieties (B-227, Jubilee) were regionalized.

The best predecessors for oil varieties of poppy are fertilized winter crops that have been planted on fallow land, such as legumes, cereal-legume mixtures, sugar beets and potatoes; opium forms grow best following plantings of sainfoin. During autumn plowing 20-30 tons/ha of manure or complete mineral fertilizers consisting of 60 kg/ha NPK are applied. When sowing in rows, granulated superphosphate consisting of 8-10 kg/ha P2O5 is used. A topdressing of 60 kg/ha N is also applied. Poppies are planted at the same time as early spring crops, with 45-60 cm between rows; if strip-cropping is used, the rows measure 6 cm wide with a distance of 56 cm between rows. The density of seeding is 3-4 kg/ha; when oil varieties are planted without thinning the density should only be 0.5-0.6 kg/ha. The seeds are sown at a depth no greater than 2 cm. Care of the plantings consists of tilling, weeding, thinning, watering, and topdressing. Poppy raised for oil is harvested when the seeds are fully mature. Raw opium is harvested when it is technically ready (20 days after complete flowering): the capsules are notched with a three-bladed knife, and on the following day the opium is separated with a scraper. Insect pests of poppies include the beetle Centorrhynchus macula and the caterpillars of Agrotis segetum, Cirphis unipuncta, and the beet webworm. Diseases include downy mildew, fusarium wilt, and alternaria blight.

REFERENCES

Veselovskaia, M. A. Mak, ego klassifikatsiia i znachenie kak maslichnoi kul’tury. Leningrad, 1933.
Minkevich, I. A., and V. E. Borkovskii. Maslichnye kul’tury. Moscow, 1955.
Monogoletnie tsvety otkrytogo grunta. Moscow, 1959.
Kiselev, G. E. Tsvetovodstvo. 3rd ed. Moscow, 1964.
Lekarstvennye rasteniia SSSR (kul’tiviruemye i dikorastushchie). Edited by A. A. Khotin [et al.]. Moscow, 1967.

G. S. VOSKRESENSKAIA