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Papaver rhoeas (common names include common poppy, corn poppy, corn rose, field poppy, Flanders poppy, or red poppy) is an annual herbaceous species of flowering plant in the poppy family, Papaveraceae. This poppy is notable as an agricultural weed (hence the common names including "corn" and "field") and after World War I as a symbol of dead soldiers.
Before the advent of herbicides, P. rhoeas sometimes was abundant in agricultural fields. The corn poppy and its cultivars such as the Shirley poppy are widely grown in gardens.
Description & appearance
Papaver rhoeas is a variable, erect annual, forming a long-lived soil seed bank that can germinate when the soil is disturbed. In the northern hemisphere it generally flowers in late spring (between May and October in the UK) but if the weather is warm enough other flowers frequently appear at the beginning of autumn. It grows up to about 70 cm (28 in) in height. The stems hold single flowers, which are large and showy, 5–10 cm (2–4 in) across, with four petals that are vivid red, most commonly with a black spot at their base. The petals slightly overlap each other. The plant can produce up to 400 flowers in a warm season, that last only one day.
The flower stem is usually covered with coarse hairs that are held at right angles to the surface, helping to distinguish it from Papaver dubium in which the hairs are more usually appressed (i.e. held close to the stem). The capsules are hairless, obovoid (egg-shaped), less than twice as tall as they are wide, with a stigma at least as wide as the capsule. Like many other species of Papaver, the plant exudes white to yellowish latex when the tissues are broken.
Not all corn poppies that are available commercially have red flowers. Selective breeding has resulted in cultivars in yellow, orange, pink, and white. The Shirley poppy is a well known cultivar. A very pale speckled variety, derived from the Shirley, is also available.
A nearly black-flowering hybrid, known as Evelina, was bred in Italy in the late 1990s, with P. dubium, but does not appear to be available commercially.
Distribution & habitat
P. rhoeas is a temperate native with a very wide distribution area, from Africa to temperate and tropical Asia and Europe.
It is found within Africa, in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Madeira Islands, and the Canary Islands. Within temperate Asia, it is found in the Caucasus regions of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Ciscaucasia. In Western Asia, it is found in Afghanistan, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. Within tropical Asia, it is found in Pakistan. Within Europe, it is found in Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Ukraine, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, France, Portugal, and Spain.
It grows in fields, beside roads, and on grasslands. It is hardy to between USDA Zone 8 and Zone 10, or down to 10 °F (-12 °C).
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