Papaver somniferum L.

Opium Poppy

Sp. Pl. 508 (1753) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Naturalised

Plants annual, caulescent, to 1.5 m high, glabrescent to setose, glaucous; stems simple or branched. Leaves to 30 cm long; blades unlobed or once pinnately lobed, usually shallowly to deeply toothed, the upper with stem-clasping bases. Peduncles often sparsely setose; sepals glabrous or setose; petals to 6 cm long, white, pink, red, or purple, often with dark or pale basal spot; filaments white to dark violet, filiform or clavate, anthers pale yellow to brownish; stigmas 5–18, disc ± flat. Capsules stipitate, subglobose, to 9 cm long, not ribbed, glabrous, glaucous. Flowers Oct.–Apr.

*CVU, *EGU, *GipP, *Glep, *HSF, *LoM, *MonT, *MuM, *NIS, *OtR, *VRiv, *VVP. Unknown in wild state, probably originally from south-eastern Europe and/or Asia Minor. Occurs spasmodically throughout the State, usually in dryish, open, disturbed sites, in gravel, sand, loam, and clay.

Papaver somniferum has long been cultivated as the source of opium (and the modern derivatives morphine and codeine), and also for edible seeds and oil. As well, various colour forms with laciniate and/or doubled petals are grown as ornamentals. Two subspecies (or varieties) are sometimes distinguished: subsp. (or var.) somniferum and subsp. (or var.) setigerum, the former comprising the cultivated forms, and the latter the weedy Atlantic and Mediterranean form, which some have posited as the progenitor of the cultivated plants. Subsp. somniferum is characterized by glabrous sepals, pale filaments, and glabrous or only very sparsely setose upper leaf surfaces, and subsp. setigerum by setose sepals, dark filaments, and sparsely to densely setose upper leaf surfaces. These distinctions hold only generally, however, and individual plants with intermediate conditions are not uncommon, especially in Australia and other areas where the species has been introduced in relatively recent times.

Source: Kiger, R.W. (1996). Papaver. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 3, Dicotyledons Winteraceae to Myrtaceae. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Ranunculanae
order Ranunculales
family Papaveraceae
genus Papaver
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <>. Find Papaver somniferum in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Papaver somniferum in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Lowan Mallee present naturalised
Murray Mallee present introduced
Glenelg Plain present introduced
Victorian Volcanic Plain present naturalised
Victorian Riverina present introduced
Gippsland Plain present naturalised
Central Victorian Uplands present naturalised
Northern Inland Slopes present naturalised
East Gippsland Uplands present naturalised
Highlands-Southern Fall present naturalised
Otway Ranges present naturalised
Monaro Tablelands present introduced

State distribution

Distribution map
Western Australia
Northern Territory
South Australia
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory