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Chemical constituents, Properties and uses of Poisonous Plant Poppy

Image of Poppy flowers

Family: Papaveraceae

Opium (Papaver somniferum) is a poisonous plant.

Plant Description

Erect annual with milky juice; leaves alternate, simple, clasping, toothed; flowers terminal, with 5-more showy petals (white, pink, red, or purple); fruit a capsule with an expanded disc at the top and over small holes through which the minute seeds are dispersed.

Where Found

In landscape occasionally in flower garden, it is illegal to cultivate opium poppy. The garden poppies are a different species and may or may not contain opium alkaloids.

Poisonous Part

Dried milky sap from all parts, but mainly fruits.

Toxic Principle

Morphine alkaloids and others.


Stupor, coma, shallow and slow breathing, respiratory and circulatory depression.


Highly toxic, may be fatal if eaten.

Chemical constituents

Opium contains about 25 alkaloids among which morphine (10-16%) is the most important base. The other alkaloids isolated from the drug are codeine, narcotine, thebaine, noscapine, narceine, papaverine, etc.

Properties and uses

It is sedative, narcotic, antiseptic, stimulant and analgesic; and used to relieve pain, diarrhoea, dysentery, muscle spasms and cough. Morphine and the diacetyl derivative heroin cause drug addiction. Abuse leads to habituation of addiction.