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Art Show: Flower of the Month: Medicinal Plants

Graceful Poppy

by Roberta Maria Atti

Banner for Flower of the Month: Medicinal Plants art show

Art: Graceful Poppy by Artist Roberta Maria Atti
I chose the title "Graceful Poppy" for this image because of this flower's graceful beauty, but for another reason as well. This is the flower from which we obtain Opium and all of its alkaloids, including Morphine, Codeine and Papaverine, just to name the most famous ones. In this first photograph, I am showing the glorious colors of this Poppy's petals in its days of glory, those long, hot Summer days in July and August, when the sun rules the sky. In my next photograph, herein called a "detail", I show the dying flower, at the end of its splendor, when petals and colors are about to vanish and fall off. However, that is actually when this plant's magic begins, as far as humans are concerned. In this second photograph one can see the "capsule" at the center, a somewhat spherical structure with many velvet-like stripes and grooves on its top surface, looking like spokes in a wheel, a cocoon of life still plump and spunky in spite of the imminent loss of the petals surrounding it. The capsule, similar to a busy nursery, will continue to grow and expand, absorbing more water and nourishing its precious contents, until, some day in the future, it will dry up, crack open and release the mature seedlings, ready, willing and able to propagate the plant in its surroundings. Opium is the milk-like substance that fills this capsule, the liquid that protects and nourishes the seeds it contains. People harvest it by scoring the capsule all around, lengthwise, leaving the rest of the plant intact, causing the white stuff to ooze out and collecting it with an implement made for this purpose. The drops are extremely bitter and bright white at first. Almost immediately, upon exposure to the air, they turn black from oxidation, hence the black, tarry look of Opium, a doughey, stretchy, incredibly bitter paste made from this "milk" collected from thousands of individual poppies. "Graceful Poppy" thereby gives us its grace: the only substance we know of that, in spite of our unenlightened mishandling of it, has been described as pure Heaven's mercy, for its ability to bring relief to those who would otherwise suffer the unbearable misery of severe physical pain. PS - our nervous system produces its own pain-killers, a group of neurotransmitters called endorphins and enkephalins. These are almost identical, in their molecular structure, to the pain-killing substances contained in Opium. All over Europe and Asia, before technological advances made it possible to refine Opium into heroin, it was not illegal to grow Opium producing poppies. People would grow them in their yards because of their beauty and medicinal properties. The dried seeds and/or capsules, steeped in a tea, could be a veritable blessing when used to treat a stubborn cough, colic, diarrhea and insomnia in toddlers and young children.

Detail Image

Detail Image for art Graceful Poppy


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