Papaver Bracteatum Herb Information


Papaver Bracteatum also goes by the name Iranian Poppy and Scarlet Poppy. The main difference between Papaver Bracteatum and the Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum) is that it's far more difficult to get morphine from the Iranian poppy. The Papaver genus includes over seventy species of flowers that thrive in temperate zones around the world, growing bowl-shaped bright flowers in various hues. As the name implies, the Scarlet Poppy is deep red with a dramatic black center.


According to Economic Botany, Papaver bracteatum originated in the region of Southern Russia and Iran. English botanist John Lindley recognized it as a species in 1821. In the early 1970s, President Nixon suggested the domestic cultivation of Iranian Poppies instead of Turkish opium poppies. It was the perfect solution for decreasing illegal heroine production while still having a cultivar that provided the substance thebaine for making codeine. The Department of Agriculture in Flagstaff, Arizona grew these poppies experimentally.


The Scarlet poppy grows up to 4 feet high crowned with impressive red petals up to 8 inches in diameter. Being closely related to oriental poppies (Papaver orientale), this particular species has both biennial and annual varieties featuring large oval, serrated leaves. In tropical regions these poppies bloom year round; otherwise, they come into flower late in spring and remain flowering through summer.


Iranian poppies prefer low-humidity. They require well-aerated soil that's well nourished and kept moist. They can grow in a wide variety of areas from the subtropical to temperate, and thrive particularly well in soil that has a minimum pH of 5 and maximum pH of 8. From the time you sow seeds, it takes about two weeks before seedlings sprout.


Papaver bracteatum roots contain thebain used for making codeine. An oil cake made from poppy seeds makes good cattle fodder, and the stem acts as a straw substitute.

Culinary Applications

Poppy seeds are completely free of opium. The culinary industry uses dried seeds for various baked goods like rolls, and seed oil extracts for salad dressing and flavoring.


Because of the sedative qualities in poppy roots, they have represented slumber or death for eons. In ancient Greece and Rome, people left poppy offerings at grave sites, symbolizing eternal sleep, but also the promise of new life because of the red color. In modern times, the poppy became an emblem commemorating veterans who died in wars.

Keywords: Iranian poppy, scarlett poppy, poppy symbolism, Papaver bracteatum history, growing Papaver bracteatum

About this Author

Patricia Telesco has been a writer since 1992. She has produced more than 60 books with publishers that include HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. Her articles have appeared in "Woman's World" and "National Geographic Today." Telesco holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Buffalo.