Poppy (Papaver rubro-aurantiacum)

Dmitry Poltavsky - Papaver rubro-aurantiacum

Dmitry Poltavsky - Papaver rubro-aurantiacum

Papaver is a genus of 70–100 species of frost-tolerant annuals, biennials, and perennials native to temperate and cold regions of Eurasia, Africa and North America. It is the type genus of the poppy family, Papaveraceae. Poppies have been grown as ornamental plants since 5000 BC in Mesopotamia. They were found in Egyptian tombs. In Greek mythology, the poppy was associated with Demeter, goddess of fertility and agriculture. The origin of the cultural symbol was probably Minoan Crete, because a figurine known as the Poppy goddess was found at a Minoan sanctuary in Crete. People believed they would get a bountiful crop if poppies grew in their fields, hence the name Corn poppy. The ancient Greeks portrayed Hypnos, Nyx and Thanatos, the gods of sleep, night and death, with the symbol of the poppy. The earliest written record appeared in the eighth century BC. Early Greek accounts seem to indicate the plant was used for euthanasia; on some Greek islands, women used it in old age to shorten the time left until natural death. Hippocrates (460–377 BC) was one of the first to emphasize the medicinal uses of the poppy and outline several methods of preparation. He described poppy juice as narcotic, hypnotic, and cathartic. He also recognized the plant's uses as food, particularly the seeds.