Is the Somniferum Poppy Legal to Grow in the USA?

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Despite the Stigmas that surround this beautiful flower, Somniferum Poppies are perfectly Legal for Gardeners LIKE US, to grow for their Seeds, Culinary Uses, and/or Aesthetics (according to Reliable sources such as Wikipedia.org and WSU.edu)

Allow me to first make it clear that we are GARDENERS, with a Passion for growing Beautiful Flowers. The purpose of thie Article is to keep Gardeners Properly Informed about their Rights and Responsibilities as Growers.

(we do NOT offer, or claim to offer, Legal Advice of any kind, in ANY WAY)

Our hope is to provide some insight, as to why any confusion exists regarding the Papaver somniferum Species.


A VERY COMMON Question I come across:

Q: What kind of Poppies Produce or Make Opium”?

A: ALL Papaver somniferum Poppies (AKA: BreadSeed Poppy, P. Paeoniflorum) & it’s Parent; P. Setigerum, Contain Morphine, Codeine, Thebaine, and other Alkaloids that Pharmaceuticals are made from, and are the same Poppies the Afghans use to create the World’s worst poison of all; Heroin

Which leads to the next Question;

Are they Legal to Grow in the USA?”

YES!! It’s perfectly LEGAL to Grow Papaver Somniferum Poppies for Aesthetic and/or Culinary purposes.

NO!! It’s NOT Legal to Grow Opium Poppies for the sake of Harvesting the ‘Opium’ or via ‘Poppy Straw’ method.

(The term ‘Poppy Straw’ originates from a mechanized method of processing the whole poppy plant, rather than the Lancing of their Individual Pods, thus decreasing the high cost of human labor)



BUT We’re just Gardeners! Should we worry? I’M CONFUSED.

Why do you think we took the time to create this Post? People have a Tendency to Confuse “OPIUM”, with the “Somniferum Poppy“. But to simplify, think of “Opium” as someone’s Blood. Perhaps the Blood of a Beautiful Person. Now, if the Poppy Plant was their Body, there’d be nothing wrong with appreciating their outer Beauty, right? Exactly!! I shouldn’t need to explain any further, since I’d rather not go into the bloody details, but let’s just agree that no matter how you look at it, accessing their inner Beauty would NOT be legal (nor nice), and would probably involve Handcuffs, a Strip Search, 3 Hots, a Cot, and lot’s of Cold Concrete (and the possibility of Bubba discovering YOUR Inner Beauty‘)


So, the Info that one may find while Researching Poppy Laws, may sometimes have to do with their Intent.

But feel free to read the Answers for yourself via @ the Reputable Sources below:

(Don’t see anything below? GO HERE)

The University of Washington’s Vegetable Research and Extension Center says

“It is Legal to grow Papaver somniferum in the United States for garden and seed production purposes; it is only illegal to manufacture opium from the poppies.”

According to the Wikipedia.org, the U.S. Law states:

“…the opium poppy is legal for culinary or esthetic reasons…”

(#cite_ref-30 to #31 | #cite_ref-56)

Click on the Screenshot to View actual WIKI Page shown below:

SOURCE: Wiki

Poppy Laws

FOR MORE INFO from WIKI on ‘CULTIVATION’, CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW:

Not only are the SEEDS 100% Legal To Possess, Buy, Sell, and GROW in the USA,

But you can even Buy LIVING Papaver Somniferum PLANTS in the USA, if you look around at your Local Nursery or Grocery Store.

In fact, here’s a photo of one I purchased at my Local grocer (who also happens to be a Major Chain).

This wasn’t just a one-time thing either.

They sell them every year and have a variety of them. As do 3 other Nurseries in my area.

The only part that is rare about this Photo, is that they usually don’t label them as “Somniferum”. They usually call the “Breadseed” poppy, or “Paeoniflorum”

This last year, they were Selling Fresh Cut Somniferum Stems sitting in Water for $1.99 each

(click Images below to enlarge)

Papaver ‘ORIENTALE’ | NOT ‘Somniferum’!!

“..but, you thought it was illegal

RIGHT?

There are usually TWO Opposing  Opinions (below).

Pay close attention to the ‘Wording’.

It all has to do with the grower’s ‘Intent’.

Only ONE can be Right;

LEFT!

Opposing Opinions:

Why People think it's LEGAL

YES! Somniferum Poppies are 100% LEGAL to grow for their Seeds & Aesthetics

To learn how,

SEE OUR POPULAR TUTORIAL:

‘How to Grow Somniferum Poppies’ HERE

There is most definitely a ‘Grey Area’ of Confusion on this Matter – and it seems to be quite the Conversation on every Gardening Blog, Video Comment, or Forum I read these days.

As a Master Botanist with a PHD in Bio-Genetics, I concluded that there are THREE main Factors the Confusion stems from:
  1. Several Conflicting Sources of Information on the Web, that people StumbleUpon while Searching, for Example:, ‘Tips about Growing Somniferum Poppies’ in their area (USDA Zone, State, or Country).
  2. So, depending on how one might go about their ‘Web search‘, will variably effect the kind of Info that gets returned in their search results.
  3. Therefore, it all has to do the Grower’s ‘Intent’, since that will probably dictate the way they go about their ‘Web Search’.

So, on ONE Side of the Spectrum:

The average Gardener who purchased a Living Somniferum Plant Start at their Local Nursery, would probably perform a Search on Google for something like: “Gardening Tips for Transplanting Somniferum Poppies’

Or perhaps, What are Papaver somniferum Poppies?

..are much more likely to come across one of many Legitimate Sources (Shown ABOVE) such as the Wikipedia or WSU’s Vegetable Research & Extension Center’ Website.


(many times, even Seed Packets are Labeled Alternative Florist Names such as ‘Bread Seed Poppy‘, ‘papaver paeoniflorum‘, there are also related Wild Strains such as ‘Papaver Setigerum’ but rarely seen at stores)

SO WHY ELSE DO PEOPLE GROW THEM? U Ask?
In my opinion, Somniferum Poppies, have some of the most Exotic blooms, Amazing Colors, and Beautiful Flowers of any kind I’ve Seen.


If you disagree, take a look at the FLICKR SLIDESHOWS (below) from some of our recent Grow Seasons- ALL Somniferum Poppies:

PLEASE COMMENT WITH YOUR THOUGHTS AND/OR EXPERIENCES BELOW:

(we will NOT Tolerate ANY Comments relating to illicit instructions and/or uses of Poppies – as explained in our Terms)

OrganicalBotanicals

For over 15+ Years, Organical Botanicals has been breeding Rare and Viable Seeds from around the world. Harvested from some of the most extreme Plant species & Unique Breeds of Exotic Plants & Flowers. Especially Poppies! We carry over 45+ Papaver Somniferum Varieties of Poppy Seeds - Many of which are NOT Available ANYWHERE ELSE!! Such as the Rare Japanese Ikkanshu Poppy, and the Quick Maturing 'Izmir Afghan GMO -SUPER SEED- *Galania* (Var. Album), as well as ALL other Varieties Originating from 'Izmir Oil & Spice Poppy Farms' (which are EXCLUSIVE to OrganicalBotanicals.com) - ALL Seeds are 100% ORGANIC,, UNTREATED, and UNWASHED. We take GREAT Pride in what we do. That explains why EVERY Photo & Video you see on our Website is of our OWN Plants & Flowers that we Breed ourselves. Harvest their Seeds. Pack, & Deliver directly to you. Soon, we will be offering Custom Art - From Framed Prints on Canvas, to Mugs, Pillows, Smartphone cases, T-Shirts, and more - We will also offer Image Licensing of our Photos & Video Clips shown throughout the Site. - ALL of which will be created from OUR IMAGE COLLECTION We also plan to soon carry a variety of Natural Bath & Body Products, Botanical Culinary Recipes, and more… Soon Listing: Albino Squash, Warted Gourds, Giant Sunflowers, as well as other Herbal Supplements – and much more. VISIT OUR STORE: OrganicalBotanicals.com

View Comments

    • Hi there! I commented on one of your other videos too with questions. This doesn't concern law, but temperature and your awesome ice method. I live in South Central PA, and I began germination too late in spring. I also didn't have much info at first, just trial and error. However, Your site has been the most informative by far! Anyway, I have two huge packages of organic culinary seeds that are completely viable. Also picked up some black swan seeds from home Depot! I'm planting in containers-- 5 g at the least. Soil is a mix of organic potting soil, peat moss, sand, PERLITE and rocks for drainage. I did mix a handful of cow manure even tho later I read that you do not suggest this. Out of three, One container of two sprouts is surviving on my balcony using the ice method to keep things cool .. the other container was killed because during transplanting I damaged the root system. The second pot, it's still on my front porch but the sprout looks half eaten/ half wilted. I am using netting so if something did eat it, it must have been insects. I have two more peat pots germinating now inside under a lamp. So I'm going to try to do things right this time.. no cow manure. Also no miracle grow. I did add some of that to the pots. I bought some tomato fertilizer but I'm going to exchange it for guano or what do you think I should get? Please help! If I can get just one plant to mature and flower this season I will be happy. They just don't seem to be growing fast at all.
      How often am I supposed to be putting Ice on the netting? I’ve been doing this twice a day: first thing in the morning, and mid after noon. Won’t this method end up drowning my poppies??! They like cool, dry conditions. They are getting cool but the ice does melt. ?? I do not water them using anything else though! ?

      • Ok, did you put any Slug Bait down like SLUGGO? I know, you won't see them, but they are VERY TINY (not the average Slug) and they match the color of the soil, and only come to feed at night.
        Also, did you cover the top Layer of Soil with Perlite? THIS IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL!!
        It not only reflects light back onto your Sprouts (Which require Light), but it also deflects HEAT since it's WHITE, whereas Soil is DARK. Lastly, it retains moisture from escaping the Soil, AND it will keep little "Moisture loving" critters away from your sprouts since all moisture passes by it, thus repelling any Slugs naturally.
        Now, the ICE METHOD, is supposed to be a SOLID, Shallow Block of Ice (use a tin Pie Pan or whatever baking Pan you might have that you can add a couple inches of water to).
        Place it over the Pot so it COVERS the WHOLE diameter of the exposed top of the Pot, so to create a "refrigeration effect".
        Yes, it will melt, but it will melt MUCH slower if it's a SOLID Piece (just a scientific fact), with PERLITE on the top of your Soil to reduce radiant heat.
        It won't "drown" your poppies if your Soil is well draining. They need constant moisture when sprouting anyways.
        Poppies Flop over Naturally, and are Slow Growing until they start Flowering. -
        I cover this in another Blog Post and in one of the Videos HERE in THIS Post.
        Thanks!
        -OrgBot

  • Hi do you ship seeds to the United kingdom and if so where can I buy them from..??? Many thanks ;-)

    • Of course. We Ship everywhere except Australia. Just go to the main Page: OrganicalBotanicals.com - and once you add items to Cart, continue to Checkout and Select your Country from the Scroll Menu (it may default to the USA - so just select your Country) - Enter address, and Continue.
      Thats's It!
      Also, I sent u an Important message on FB. Be sure to check your "Others" Folder at your FB Inbox.
      Thanks!
      -OrgBot

    • Agreed.
      The only reason for our mention of "Intent" was to help answer the question as to why there is so much Confusion on this matter (of whether or not they are Legal to Grow).
      Since one's "intent" directly effects how they go about searching for Information (in regards to their Legality). Which leads to how they go about finding information, and the difference between the two kinds of Opposing (yet reputable) information can be found.
      We weren't referring the any Law (i.e.: "Criminal Intent").
      In fact I don't believe we even used the word "Criminal" anywhere in this Post.
      We were just using the word "Intent" as a Descriptive word, in order to simplify the reason why some people think it's LEGAL to Grow, and why some think it's Illegal.
      I hope that makes sense.
      Thanks for the info.
      -OrgBot

  • I have noticed you don't monetize your blog, don't waste your traffic,
    you can earn extra bucks every month because you've got
    high quality content. If you want to know how to make extra bucks,
    search for: "Dollar Gigs" on Google to find the first Result at the TOP

    • We don't need to display annoying Adds to our Customers.
      But thanks
      -OrgBot

    • I don't need to. Besides, I don't like to display annoying Ads to my Customers.
      But thanks!

      -OrgBot

  • Where do you live that they have live plants/cut pods for sale? Here in NJ they don't even sell the seeds in stores.

    • I'm in WA State. But the USA is the USA.
      And I have been buying Plants and Seeds both online, and at the grocery Store (a Major Chain: Safeway™), LONG before we even became a so called "Green-State". (not that it matters, but in case you think it's related)
      And I beleive the Links we referred to in this Post (by Wikipedia.org & WSU) are still current and Valid (clicking on their Title or their Screenshot Image will take you to their Live Web Page as they exist today)
      But yeah, Papaver Somniferum Poppy Plants and Seeds, aren't always the easiest to find when trying to buy them in Stores.
      That's because they use Alternative Names (aka: Bread seed Poppy, Paeoniflorum, etc) - and that's if they even Label them!!
      That's why I included Photos of the Plant Start with the Label that said "Papaver somniferum" in it's Plant Stake.
      Because that's something RARELY seen. But often Sold in Nurseries and Stores across the USA.
      You might have better Luck at Mom n Pop Nurseries (just refer to them as breadseed poppies).
      Only problem with that, is you don't have a way of knowing what you're going to get.
      Even on the packaging, they never use photos.
      If anything, you get a painting or drawing.
      Hence, how I found my Purpose (this Website).
      Because of that very fact.
      These are the most beautiful flowers in the world. And they grow ANYWHERE in the USA.
      (you just plant them whenever your area's Temp Range matches the proper temps)
      Thanks!!!

      • Interesting, thanks for the reply. I'll have to call around to all of the nurseries and flower shops around here. We have so many in a short distance.

  • I'm interested in purchasing seeds to this beautiful plant to grow in my garden. I've recently been treated for colon cancer and suffer from chronic arthritic pain. If I grew this plant I would not use it for cultivating illegal drugs but is it legal to possibly use it as a lotion for the area where the arthritis is? I live in the central valley of California. Thank you

    • Unfortunately, calling it "Lotion" won't change the fact that you're still harvesting and Using it's "Inner Fluids".
      Which, as explained earlier, is NOT LEGAL.
      You can ONLY Grow them for Decorative Purposes, or Culinary Purposes (harvesting their Seeds or Seed Oils).
      You STRICTLY cannot Puncture the Plant's Skin or Grind up Plant Parts (Poppy Straw) to access it's Innards.
      I suggest you see a Physician for your ailments.
      Take Care!!

  • I don't care what the University of Washington says. I care what US law says. Opium Poppy Control Act of 1942, Sec. 3: "[see wikipedia] The DEA could, if they so chose, press charges against anyone growing opium poppies in their back yard. No gray areas. The law is very clear cut. Recently someone in North Carolina and two separate people in California had their ~0.4 hectare of poppy plants destroyed by law enforcement. I'm not sure if there was any prosecution. A young man in Chicago (I believe he was a boxer) now has a permanent criminal record after a plea deal to avoid jail time for selling poppy STRAW. To suggest to your customers that it is legal to grow Papaver somniferum is simply wrong and frankly disingenuous.

    • Well, you shouldn't care what it says, however, you SHOULD care what I say. LOL j/k (kidding).
      Thanks for your comment Jerome. You may have missed a few things I wrote, because the grey area has to do with:
      -What the difference is, & the misunderstanding behind, growing "Opium Poppies" (or Poppy straw - for illicit purposes)- vs. Growing Papaver Somniferum (for their beauty and/or seeds).
      This is actually explained below the WSU Post - in the SAME Wikipedia that you "COPY/PASTED" from (maybe??).
      But that isn't what explains my point.

      And the main reason why I even wrote this complete Blog Post, was due to multiple questions I would receive from innocent Gardeners, who feared that they may go to prison, after realizing they were growing Papaver Somniferum Poppies (which are commonly sold for LEGAL sewing/growing in the USA...in NO WAY are we encouraging their illicit uses- let's just clear that up right now)

      I'm talking about Ornamental Poppies
      ALLOW me to simplify. Notice how it says it's Illegal to grow "OPIUM Poppy".
      However, it is NOT illegal to grow 'Papaver Somniferum' (and although they may be the same thing, the WORDING itself implies 'Intent'- and growing them with Illicit Intent, is, in fact, illegal- YOU ARE CORRECT).

      This is explained in great detail within this Post. Try reading the Wikipedia Page's "ornamental Section".(MY BUTTON USED TO LEAD YOU DIRECTLY TO THAT SECTION, BUT IT KEEPS CHANGING, SORRY)

      Also see the photos in this post of Living Plants I've purchased EVERY year from MAJOR Grocery Chains!!
      If there was ANY "Grey Area" that was of any concern, then you wouldn't be able to Buy Somniferum Seeds online (at places like eBay, Amazon, and this Website- because eCommerce Regulations are much MORE Strict, than Brick and Mortar Marketplaces. Which is why you can't buy things like Cigarettes online (which are perfectly legal- NO GREY AREA).

      On a side note, try reading our TERMS regarding Comments/Questions submitted regarding illicit uses - You'll see how we are very strict with what we allow. Also, you'll notice, in our actual Listings, there are ZERO implications of illicit purpose, etc - Not even the "O" word.

      (sorry, I had to rush through this post, so please accept my apologies if it sounds rude- I'm not trying to be short w/ you, but I wanted to respond at least)
      But thanks for your comment though (sorry, I had to edit some to avoid getting a Violation from Google for Duplicate Content.)

      TO BE CLEAR: WE DO NOT CONDONE, ENCOURAGE, OR SUPPORT THE ILLICIT USE OF THE POPPY. WE ARE GARDENERS WHO SUPPORT GARDENERS.
      Thanks Jerome!!

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