Papaver rhoeas near Jermuk

Papaver rhoeas: The Common Poppy

Papaver rhoeas, commonly known as Papaver vulgaris, Papaver arvaticum, Common Poppy, Corn Poppy, African Rose, Corn Rose, Field Poppy, Flanders Poppy, or Red Poppy, belongs to the Papaveraceae family of plants. The name “rhoeas” is derived from the Greek word for red. After World War I, Papaver rhoeas became a symbol of fallen soldiers.

Origin and Discovery: Papaver rhoeas has a long history and was known as an agricultural weed. However, with the advent of herbicides, its presence in cultivated fields has decreased. The plant was first published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 in his book “Species Plantarum.”

Characteristics and Description: Papaver rhoeas is an herbaceous annual plant that features pinnately lobed oblong leaves. It typically produces solitary red flowers on hairy stems that reach a height of about 70cm or 28 inches. The hairs on the stems are usually perpendicular to the stem. The flowers have four red petals, each with a black spot at its base. In favorable conditions, a single plant can produce up to 400 flowers. The flowering season for Papaver rhoeas generally occurs in late spring and autumn.

The plant exudes yellow latex when its tissues are broken. Through cultivation, various colors have been bred, including yellow, pink, and even black. Papaver rhoeas contains rhoeadine, a mild sedative compound.

Cultivation of Papaver rhoeas:

Sunlight: Papaver rhoeas thrives in full sun, although it can tolerate partial shade, particularly in areas with hot summers.

Watering: Papaver rhoeas is relatively drought-tolerant and does not require excessive watering. Water deeply once a week, or more frequently during hot, dry weather. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings to prevent overwatering.

Soil: Plant Papaver rhoeas in fertile and well-drained soil. If the soil is heavy or clay-based, you can improve drainage by incorporating sand or compost.

Pests and Diseases: While Papaver rhoeas is generally resilient, it may be susceptible to a few pests and diseases:

  • Aphids: These small, sucking insects can damage the leaves and stems. Control aphids by spraying the plant with water or using insecticidal soap.
  • Whiteflies: Whiteflies are small, white insects that can harm the leaves. Control them using water sprays or insecticidal soap.
  • Powdery Mildew: A fungal disease causing white, powdery patches on leaves. Remove infected leaves and apply a fungicide to control powdery mildew.
  • Rust: This fungal disease manifests as orange or yellow spots on the leaves. Remove infected leaves and apply a fungicide to manage rust.


Papaver rhoeas can be propagated by seeds or division.

Seeds: Sow Papaver rhoeas seeds directly into the ground in either spring or fall. Plant the seeds 1/4 inch deep and space them 1 inch apart. Keep the soil moist until germination occurs.

Division: Divide Papaver rhoeas plants in spring or fall. Carefully dig up the plant and separate the roots. Replant the divisions in well-drained soil.

Additional Tips:

  • Fertilizer: Papaver rhoeas does not require frequent fertilization. Apply a balanced fertilizer once a year in the spring.
  • Pruning: While pruning is not necessary for Papaver rhoeas, you can deadhead spent flowers to encourage new growth.
  • Hardiness: Papaver rhoeas is hardy in USDA zones 3-9.
Papaver rhoeas
Field Poppy or Papaver rhoeas near Sevan Lake, Armenia
Papaver rhoeas near Jermuk
Papaver rhoeas fields near Jermuk, Armenia
Papaver rhoeas
Common Poppy or Papaver rheas near Noravank, Armenia
Papaver rhoeas
Red Poppy fields near Jermuk

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