Poppy, Peshawar (Papaver somniferum var. album)
Family: Poppy (Papaveracaea)
Witches Lore: Poppy has a long history of association with Wise Women and wortcunning and for that reason was very often grown in a witch's garden. Some people say that poppy was an ingredient in flying ointments, there to counteract the deadly effects of baneful herbs. The lore of flying ointments has been lost, but in Eclectic Medicine, the botanical medicine that once reigned in the US, poppy was considered an antidote to belladonna.
Poppy seeds are classically used in confusion magic - sprinkle the seeds around the exterior of your home to cause confusion to spirits of ill will. In folklore, vampires were warded off by sprinkling poppy seeds, as they were obligated to stop and count them.
Poppies are also associated with Binah (Understanding), a combination of Mother/Crone near the top of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.
Herbal Use: Widely used in Indian culinary dishes and in pastries like poppyseed bagels, Papaver somniferum var. album is also grown as an ornamental cultivar. It's healing properties include as a sedative, astringent, expectorant, hypnotic, aphrodisiac, antispasmodic and analgesic.
How to grow: Cultivar from Persia flowers early and makes large, elongated pods. Spread seed on fast-draining soil in fall or very early spring. For best results, plan the planting of poppies so that they germinate and grow during cool, moist weather and flower and make seed during hot, dry weather. It takes some years of experimentation to figure out how to do this in the various temperate zones. Those in southern Oregon strew the seed with the first fall rains and finish seed harvest in June.
Plant prefers full sun and highly nitrogenous, fast-draining soil of neutral pH.
100 seeds/pkt. Organically grown
Note: Planting and raising poppies requires the skill and/or luck of knowing when, where and how to plant them. In the midwest and east I think it probably works best to hit the first spring rains after the last frost. It is common to get a lot of reprod from seed that drops during harvest--this is often the most successful method of dissemination. Poppy cultivation works best when you know how to read the weather. Timing maturation to occur during hot/dry spells is the best way to go.