Orange Poppy

Papaver aculeatum

Common name: Orange poppy, Afrikaans name: Doring papawer, Sotho name: sehhlohlo

Disturbed areas of veld, alongside roads or edges of ploughed fields are home to the delightful orange South African poppy. This summer there is a profusion of them as you drive around the Midlands – obviously they like the wet weather. The plants can be over 1m tall, with lots of salmon coloured flowers borne at the ends of the prickly stems. The fruit (the poppy seed head) is oval shaped and ribbed and dries beautifully for flower arrangements – much smaller and more delicate that the common poppy seed head.

summer poppies res

It self seeds easily and makes a charming addition to a pretty border. As with all members of the poppy family, it is rich in alkaloids and research is being conducted into the exact nature of these. While wheat farmers may consider it a weed, young leaves are eaten as spinach in Lesotho. As the photo shows, it is popular with bees too – certainly a cheerful, celebratory addition to the summer landscape.

papaver and bee.res

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