In 40 genera, the poppy family has 770 species that are mostly found in the northern hemisphere. The opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) is the source of morphine and opium. It is illegal to grow in the United States but is readily grown in other places. The alkaloids are extracted from the sap, which is drained by making slices along the seed capsules. Many poppies grow wild and are very attractive because of their large showy blossoms.
Systematics: Poppies have sap that is colored or milky. Very unique is the fact that the perianth is mismatched. The calyx has (usually) 2-3 lobes that fall off as the flower emerges. The corolla is composed of 4-12 lobes of petals in 1 or 2 whorls. There are 6 diadelphous stamens and 1 superior ovary in one pistil. Fruits are capsular and often dehiscing.
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