Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Opium harvested in Lambeth

Posted on by royvickery |

OPPOP 003Opium is traditionally obtained by scoring the immature seed capsules of opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) allowing latex  to escape and solidify, so that it can be scraped off and gathered.  In the British Isles opium poppy is a frequently cultivated ornamental, and odd plants often spring up on waste ground.  For several years ornamental opium poppies have been grown in the Walled Garden, in Brockwell Park, London Borough of Lambeth.  In 2015 many of the seed capsules had been scored, presumably by people hoping to collect opium, and, to a (so far) lesser extent the practice has continued in 2016.  Some plants have also had their capsules removed, possibly by other people hoping to extract the drug.

OPPOP 0147 August 2016 Most of the opium poppies in the Walled Garden have had their capsules removed.  Presumably this has been done either by people who have taken them to scrape off the solidified latex, or by people who have removed them to ensure that other people cannot get and misuse the solidified latex.

6 July 2021.  Many of the seed capsules scored.

Comment 9 July 2022, by one of the volunteers who help maintain the garden:  ‘We are told to allow opium poppies to grow only near the front of the flower beds, otherwise people walk on the beds to collect the seed capsules’.

Images:  14 July  and 7 August 2016.

Updated 9 July 2022.




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