Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Papaver somniferum L., Sp. Pl. 1: 508. 1753; Hook. f. & Thomson in Fl. Brit. India 1: 117. 1872.

Beng.:Posto; Hindi: Afim,Afyum, Khas-khas, Postehij, Guj.: Aphina, Khus-khus, Posta; Mal.: Aveen, Afium, Khasha-khasha; Mar.: Aphu, Khus-khus, Posta; Punj.: Afim, Doda, Khas-khas, Khishshash; Sans.: Ahifen, Chosa, khasa, Khakasa, Ullasata; Tam.: Abini, Gasha-gasha, Kasa-kasa, Postaka; Tel.: Abhini, Gasagasala, Gasalu, Khasakasa; Urdu: Khash-khasu-faid.

Herbs, annual, robust, erect, glaucous, glabrous or nearly so, 0.5 - 1 m high, little branched. Basal leaves ovate-oblong, shallowly pinnatifid, rounded or cordate at base, acute at apex, 15 - 25 x 8 - 15 cm; lobes triangular, coarsely dentate, glaucous green; petioles short, 1 - 2 cm long; upper cauline leaves smaller, more shallowly lobed or unlobed, sessile, cordate-amplexicaul at base. Flower buds ovoid-oblong, obtuse, 1.5 - 3 x 1 - 2 cm; pedicels 3 - 20 cm long, leafless; flowers 2 - 10 cm across. Sepals glabrous, early caducous. Petals obovate, orbicular, wavy-margined, 3 - 9 cm across, white, or pale purple, sometimes with a dark basal blotch. Stamens as long as ovary; filaments yellowish, 5 - 10 mm long; anthers oblong, 1 - 1.5 mm long. Ovary globose, with 5 - 12-lobed apical disc bearing sessile stigmas. Capsules. globuse, subglobose or ovoid, rounded at base, flat-topped, 2 - 7 x 5 - 6 cm, glabrous; stigmatic disc enlarged, scarious, with 7 - 18 rays; seeds globose, ca 3 mm in diam., white of grey-brown or grey black.

Fl. & Fr. April- Aug.

Distrib. India: Widely cultivated in several parts of north India, up to 3000 m in Himalayas, possibly also naturalised. Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Manipur, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan to Europe and Central Asia.

Notes. The latex from fruits yields the narcotic alkaloids (Morphine, Narcotine, Papaverine, Codeine and Thebaine) widely used in medicine.

Opium is used in diarrhoea, diabetes and rheumatism and also as an antidote to snake poison and scorpion sting.

Also cultivated for the poppy-seeds used as food and to produce an oil, which is used for making candles, soap, medicine and as food.

Javeid (in Indian Forester 99: 629.1973), reports this from Srinagar in Kashmir.

Chromosome no. n = 11 (Koul et al. in Nucleus 15: 117 - 123. 1972); 2n = 22 (Mary & Malik in Chromosome Inf. Servo 15: 27 - 29. 1973).

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