Red poppy is an archetypal weed of summer, flowering in profusion on disturbed soil and among unsprayed crops. Unwanted by farmers, it has long been a useful country herbal remedy. Red poppy is soothing and sedative, relieves pain and helps sleep, but without the narcotic effects of its relative, the opium poppy.
Description: An annual with bright red flowers, growing to about 70cm. Lasts most of the summer.
Habitat: Arable land and other disturbed ground.
Distribution: Found in most of Britain and Ireland apart from mountainous areas.
Related species: Long-headed poppy (P. dubium) is very similar but has paler petals and long seed capsules. Rough poppy (P. hybridum) and prickly poppy (P. argemone) both have bristly seed capsules and are scarce. Opium poppy (P. somniferum) has grey–green leaves and the flowers are usually pale lilac with darker centres.
Parts used: Flowers and seeds, harvested in summer.