The Corn Poppy, Field Poppy, Flanders Poppy, or Red Poppy is the wild poppy of agricultural cultivation—Papaver rhoeas. It is a variable annual plant. The four petals are vivid red, most commonly with a black spot at their base. In the northern hemisphere it generally flowers in late spring, but if the weather is warm enough other flowers frequently appear at the beginning of autumn. It has a variety of common names.
It is known to have been associated with agriculture in the Old World since early times. It has most of the characteristics of a successful weed of agriculture. These include an annual lifecycle that fits into that of most cereals, a tolerance of simple weed control methods, the ability to flower and seed itself before the crop is harvested. Like many such weeds, it also shows the tendency to become a crop in its own right; its seed is a moderately useful commodity, and its flower is edible.
Its origin is not known for certain. As with many such plants, the area of origin is often ascribed by Americans to Europe, and by northern Europeans to southern Europe. The European Garden Flora suggests that it is ‘Eurasia and North Africa’; in other words, the lands where agriculture has been practised since the earliest times.
The leaves are mildly poisonous to grazing animals. The seed is harmless and is used sometimes as a condiment. The commonly grown decorative Shirley Poppy is derived from forms of this plant. The commonly used parts of the corn poppy are the seeds (in baking), the fresh green parts as vegetable, and the red petals by making syrups and alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks. Red poppy syrup is a traditional beverage of Mediterranean regions like Bozcaada.
It has had an old symbolism and association with agricultural fertility.
It has become associated with wartime remembrance in the 20th century, especially during Remembrance Day in Commonwealth countries. As poppies bloomed in much of the western front in World War I, poppies are a symbol of military veterans, especially of that war.
Since the poppy symbol is largely associated with Remembrance Day in Canada, the Canadian Mint has released a series of quarters into circulation that have the poppy imprinted on them in the center of the coin.
Corn poppies growing in a grassy field
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