Poppy Plant Characteristics

The red poppy (Papaver rhoeas) is one of the most widely known wildflowers in the world. They are pretty annuals that produce delicate multicolored flowers on top of fern-like leaves. Many times they will reseed themselves and come back the following year, often as the original red poppy. If you grow them in an area where they can live undisturbed, they will reseed en masse, filling the area with brightly colored blossoms.


The blossoms of this flower are characterized by their light, papery feel. They are so thin, often just a slight breeze will cause one of the petals to flop over. The centers usually are black and the petals can be red, pink or white. The flower is borne on a long, scratchy stem. Before the flower opens, it just looks like a drooping bud, hanging from the end of the stem.


You will see the leaves of the poppy plant early in the spring, or even late winter. They radiate outward flat on the ground until faster growth starts with the warmer weather and the leaves rise up. They look like miniature ferns radiating outward from the base.


Common wild poppy seeds are not the same as the opium poppy nor the poppy seeds used in cooking. These seeds are light to dark brown and borne in a seed head that forms after the flower fades. Only about .5 mm in width, several hundred poppy seeds are contained in each pod.


Keywords: poppy flowers, characteristics wild poppies, poppy seeds, poppy plant characteristics

About this Author

Based in Maryland, Heidi Braley, currently writes for local and online media outlets. Some of Braley's articles from the last 10 years are in the "Oley Newsletter," "Connections Magazine," GardenGuides and eHow.com. Braley's college life included Penn State University and Villanova University with her passions centered in nutrition and botany.