Papaver somniferum - Hungarian Breadseed Poppy or Opium Poppy
This new work will be on exhibit at the Green Currency Exhibition at The New York Botanical Garden.
By Wendy Hollender
I found this plant growing in a well known local herbalist’s garden. Dina grows many unusual and useful plants and suggested the poppy as an interesting plant to illustrate, because of its uses. Its story seemed appropriate for the green currency exhibit The seeds of the poppy are edible and the latex inside the immature pods are the source of opium. Dina uses the leaves and petals in salads as they are edible. The dried pods are also used ornamentally in the floral design trade. She learned of this use in the Mediterranean but it is not widely know for some reason. It is hard to believe that such an unassuming, pretty, delicate pink flower could be the source for so much controversy.
I was attracted to the way the pink petals unfold but maintain their creases. The reproductive parts are like exquisite jewelry and the silvery blue green leaves are graceful and wonderful to draw.
I started “stalking “ the plant when the leaves started to emerge in May. There were only a few growing so I wanted to be sure and capture them in all stages. Dina let me know when a bud had formed and I came back in time to see the flower open.
I spent days in front of the flower drawing several colored drawings. I was at first going to submit those, but ultimately decided I needed an unusual composition to tell the story of the Poppy. I did research on how the opium is cultivated and also looked at the poppy seeds under the microscope. The plant is full of surprises and a delight to draw.
Medium: watercolor pencil and colored pencil on watercolor paper.