Origin: Vashon Island, Washington
Improvement status: Breeding population
Seeds per packet: ~200
Germination tested 11/2022: 85%
Life cycle: Annual
This breeding mix combines the classic purple-flowering opium poppies and bright red-pink poppies, with both producing a profusion of edible seeds. We got these seeds from Jennifer Williams at Wild Dreams Farm on Vashon Island in Washington state. Here's what she says about the origins of this mix:
"The Breadseed Poppy mix started growing here at the farm when a friend was staying with me over the summer about 6 or 7 years ago and planted them. The original color was the light purple and I have a patch that has naturalized that I harvest seed from. In subsequent years the pink-red petaled type showed up in the naturalized patch but each year they both grow side by side. Last season I intentionally planted a seed crop of both colors to harvest larger quantities of seed and that is the mix I sell now. I've read — on Instagram on a post by Wild Garden Seeds! — that in Frank's experience poppies don't readily make crosses with one another and I've found that to be true with these as well."
Poppy seeds are not only edible, used in treats both savory and sweet, but they also produce an edible oil much prized in certain cultures for both cooking or raw use. Additionally, as the botanical name indicates (Papaver somniferum — "poppy that brings sleep") this species is probably most well-known as the source of opium, which is the narcotic latex extracted from the unripe seed pods. It is illegal in the United States to extract opium from poppy pods — and it is even more illegal to "refine" the raw product into morphine or heroine. But while opium is a controlled substance, and by the letter of the law opium poppies and poppy straw are also illegal, opium poppy seeds are widely available from seed companies in the United States — and of course they can be found in most every supermarket across the country as a food product. We have not heard of anyone growing poppies as an ornamental or food crop running into legal trouble, but we would be remiss if we didn't explain our understanding of the legal situation regarding the cultivation of this special plant, which is as follows: As long as you do not score the seed pods to extract the latex, you should be fine — but we are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice!
Poppies are easy to grow, beautiful, and delicious. With any luck, they will re-seed in your garden and you'll have them coming back for years to come. Start them early — the seedlings like it cold!