Is Growing Poppies Illegal?

Written by laura reynolds | 13/05/2017
Is Growing Poppies Illegal?
Plenty of alternatives to the opium poppy exist for the home garden. (Paul Burns/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Native poppies grow all over the globe as annuals and perennials and come in a rainbow of colours. Information about them, however, tends to either ignore their legal limitations or discuss their circumvention.

The Facts

Is Growing Poppies Illegal?
The native corn poppy was used for cold relief in medieval Europe. (corn poppy image by Jaroslav Machacek from

All paver species contain alkaloids including morphine and codeine that are controlled as U.S. Schedule I narcotics. Although these substances are used medicinally, state and federal governments regulate their manufacture and distribution.

Types of Poppies

Is Growing Poppies Illegal?
P. nudaucaule, Iceland poppy, is native to Asia. (Iceland poppy and a bud in a round ceramic vase image by Tamara Kulikova from

Papaver rhoeus -- called corn, field, Flanders or Shirley poppy -- is an annual poppy; Perennial poppies include Iceland poppies (P. nudaucaule and P. Radicatum), Alpine poppy (P. alpinum) and Oriental poppy (P. orientale). Their culture is not regulated.

Opium Poppies

Is Growing Poppies Illegal?
The opium poppies' seed pods, not their flowers, make them undesirable. (poppy in Poland image by Piter Pkruger from

Alkaloid-containing latex harvested from P. somniferum's seed pod is processed into narcotics. Another opium poppy, P. bracteatum, or Persian poppy, has been grown for research in Australia. The legal prohibitions against harvesting and processing with intent to sell or distribute these substances makes the pods, seeds and plant tissue or "straw" of the opium poppy a highly questionable choice for the home garden.

Non-Papaver Poppies

Is Growing Poppies Illegal?
California poppies are eschscholzia, not paver. (California poppies image by Karin Lau from

California poppy, prickly poppy and more than a dozen more wildflowers are relatives of paver genera. They are not regulated.

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