Improvement status: Wild
Seeds per packet: ~200
Germination tested 12/2020: 75%
Eye-popping perennial poppies (USDA zones 3-8) with huge orange flowers! Native to the Caucusus region (including Turkey, Iran, and Armenia), it gets both its common and botanical name from the Eurocentric notion of "The Orient", meaning "The East," which the Caucusus region was considered a part of. This species has become established in places around the world, including scattered spots in the US. Our seed source for these, Joseph Lofthouse, reports that a large patch has become a tourist attraction in Mantua, Utah (great selfie backdrop!). While not as useful as the more common opium poppy, it's said that the seed heads are harvested from the wild as a food (described as "hot and acrid"), and that the petals are used medicinally to induce sweating. But the main reason to grow these is for their beauty and resilience. Some sources report they are cold hardy down to Zone 2!
GROWING TIPS: Direct seed after danger of frost is past. Prefers full sun and soil on the dry side after flowering, and during the winter. As they're are adapted to the hot and dry summers of the Caucusus, the plants die back to the ground and go dormant in midsummer.
Photo credit: Chris Nelson.