Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Poppies for Remembrance

Poppies for Remembrance is a temporary exhibition tucked away in a corner of the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, Natural History galleries.  It’s not easy to find, but it’s well worth making the effort to do so.

In addition to telling the familiar story about how the red poppy (Papavaer rhoeas) became a symbol of remembrance for those who died in the First World War and subsequent wars, the exhibition covers the biodiversity of the plant’s habitat – using amongst other things some of the museum’s fine collection of wax plant models – the diversity of the genus Papaver and the family Papaveraceae, and the production  of opium (and the shameful mid-nineteenth century opium wars in which Britain fought so that it could continue the opium trade which led to massive addiction problems in China).  There’s even a display of postage stamps which depict poppies.

The exhibition also gives fair coverage of the Peace Pledge Union’s white poppies, and the purple poppies which were at one time produced to remember the animal victims of war.

Thus the exhibition which runs until 3 March 2019 succeeds in bringing new light to a subject which was perhaps over intensively covered in 2014, for the centenary of the outbreak of the World War I, and should prove thought provoking to a wide range of visitors.

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