The wild poppy, is a species of the genus Papaver, belonging to the family Papaveraceae.
The black stamens form a ringed bunch, which gives the appearance of a black button. The fruit is a capsule with false partitions, pale green, oval shaped truncated by a sort of lid on the top with 8-18 spokes and containing numerous seeds that escape through pores below the upper disc. These tiny seeds are, as in all species of the genus, with a brown color.
It is an annual cycle plant that can reach more than 50 cm in height. It has stems erect and little branched with fine hairs. The intense scarlet flowers, flared and almost spherical, have 4 fine petals and 2 hairy sepals. The petals are very delicate and wilt quickly, so that the flowers can not be used in floral ornaments.
Leaves are slightly poisonous to herbivorous animals. The fresh green leaves, before flowering, can be cooked like spinach and are very appetizing, with a characteristic taste, losing the poisonous properties when cooked, although with sedative effects by the alkaloids it contains, reason why its consumption as food has Having declined in southern Europe.
Seeds are harmless and are often used as seasoning and in pastries while petals are used to make syrups and non-alcoholic beverages. The sap, petals and capsules contain rhoeadine, an alkaloid with slightly sedative effects, unlike the Papaver somniferum species "opium poppy" containing morphine. Excessive consumption can cause intestinal discomfort, even upset stomach.
The origin of Papaver rhoeas is not known, but it is widely spread in Eurasia and North Africa (where it is used for the manufacture of cosmetics). Often found in areas of cultivation, Papaver rhoeas has spread to agricultural areas, meaning that they have colonized areas due to the influence of man.