As I've watched our poppies this year, I designed a sculptural piece of jewelry to ease my obsession.
Red poppies grow upright with a single bloom on the stem. The stem is slightly hairy and can reach 3 to 4 feet in height.
Poppies produce a spectacular flower. The petals are thin and fragile and can easily be shaken off. The petals resemble crumpled tissue paper and are formed in a cup shape.
The poppy fruit is the seed pod. When the flower has finished blooming the petals drop off and the center ovary swells. It contains the seeds and will open valves on top to release the seeds when they are ripe. The fruit has a greenish skin and is shaped like a ridged pot with a little lid.
Poppy seeds are tiny and dark brown. They are the source of the edible poppy seeds used for decoration on food and for seasoning. They can also be pressed to produce poppy-seed oil. The fruit or seed capsule contains hundreds of these little seeds which escape the pod through fissures in the top. One poppy seed head can produce a beautiful, bright field of poppies. The seeds disperse a variety of ways and germinate.
Here is an interesting fact:
It's true that the flowers are very fleeting, lasting in a vase sometimes only for hours. They don't wilt, but the delicate petals begin to fall quickly. To avoid this, there is something you can do. As you cut the flowers, take only the freshest. Then use a large match or cigarette lighter, holding the cut end of the stem over the flame, and let it sear the end of the stem until it's almost black. This seals the milky juices into the stem, and usually at least doubles the life of the flower in water. Even with searing, your arrangement won't last long. But don't hesitate; if you want poppies on the table, cut them and enjoy. Everybody will love them.