Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Herbs, annual, biennial or perennial, with milky, yellowish or orange-coloured juice; stems erect, ascending, mostly bristly, rarely glabrous. Leaves mostly on stems, sometimes in a rosette at base, mostly pinnatifid or pinnatilobed or pinnatipartite, entire or mostly incised, dentate or serrate; segments variously incised; lower leaves petioled, upper sessile. Flowers solitary, terminal and axillary on long leafless scapes, ebracteate, sometimes paniculate, mostly patent or appressed-setose; flower buds ovate or subglobose. Sepals 2 (-3), free, early caducous, ovate-orbicular, minutely setose. Petals 4 (-6), in 2 whorls, obovate-orbicular with little or no claw, mostly red, yellow, orange, lilac or white. Stamens many; filaments filiform or dilated; anthers small orbicular to linear. Ovary mostly ovoid, rarely cylindrical-oblong, glabrous, or setose; ovules many on parietal placentae; stigmas sessile, 4 - 20, radiating on a lobed disc. Capsules oblong, glabular, obovate or subcylindrical, dehiscing by subapical pores under lobes of persistent disc; seeds very small, kidney-shaped, alveolate-reticulate, brown, black, dark-grey or white, without appendage.

Temperate Europe, Africa and Asia; about 50 species, 6 in India.


1a. Stems very short; leaves all radical; flowers borne on leafless scapes 4. Papaver nudicaule
b. Stems long or rarely short; leaves both radical and cauline; flowers on leafy scapes 2
2a. Plants glabrous, glaucous; cauline leaves sessile, amplexicaul, unlobed or shallowly pinnatifid; flowers one or few 6. Papaver somniferum
b. Plants usually densely hispid or stiff hairy; cauline leaves shortly petioled, not amplexicaul, deeply Pinatisect; flowers many 3
3a. Stigmatic segments keeled, with deeply dissected marginal lobes; disc of capsules hemispherical 3. Papaver macrostomum
b. Stigmatic segments not keeled, with shallow marginal lobes; disc of capsules flat 4
4a. Terminal segments of leaves narrow, linear, awned; capsules subglobose, hispid-setose, with 4 - 8 stigmatic rays 2. Papaver hybridum
b. Terminal segments of leaves broader, not awned; capsules campanulate, oblong-ovoid or clavate-cylindrical, glabrous, with 6 - 15 stigmatic rays 5
5a. Terminal segments of leaves almost equal to lateral segments; capsules oblong-ovate or clavate-cylindrical; number of rays of stigmatic disc 6 - 8 (-9) 1. Papaver dubium
b. Terminal segments of leaves much longer than the lateral segments; capsules campanulate; number of rays of stigmatic disc 9 - 13 (- 15) 5. Papaver rhoeas

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