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PAPAVER rhoeas

Image of Papaver rhoeas

Jessie Keith



Botanical Name

PAPAVER rhoeas

Plant Common Name

Corn Poppy, Flanders Field Poppy, Shirley Poppy

General Description

One of the most beautiful of all meadow wildflowers, the corn or Flanders poppy brings to mind European fields filled with red poppies gently waving in the wind. The deepest orange-red, papery blossoms appear from early to midsummer for only a short time as the plants are true annuals that quickly die after blooming and setting seed. This delicate poppy is native across Eurasia and in the far northern regions of Africa. It is a symbol of war remembrance in most English-speaking countries, made famous by a line in a World War I poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, "In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow, among the crosses row on row."

Small clumps of downy, light green leaves are produced in spring. They are oblong and almost feathery. The greatest flush of bloom is in early summer when fallow fields become dotted with the glowing red flowers. Most flowers have a black spot at the base of each petal and blackened pollen. Bees and butterflies pollinate the blooms. The fruits that follow are pyxis seed pods, which release scores of tiny seeds that germinate in autumn or the following spring.

Grow corn poppy in full sun and fertile soil with average moisture and good drainage. This is a true wildflower, so plant it as such by sprinkling its seeds in worked up ground. There is no need to cover the small, black seeds. This poppy does not fare well in regions with hot, dry summers. In areas with mild winters, it can be sown in early fall for winter flowering.

Many strains and cultivars of this poppy are currently available. Some come in mixed shades of rose, pink or white. Others have extra rows of petals, making them semi-double or double.

Corn poppy has become naturalized across much of North America. It is generally not added to lists of noxious weed plants because it poses little to no ecological threat to native plant populations.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    1'-3' / 0.3m - 0.9m

  • Width

    8"-12" / 20.3cm - 30.5cm

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Europe, Northern Africa, Central Asia, Western Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH


  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    Red, Orange Red, Black

  • Flower Color Modifier


  • Fruit Color

    Sandy Brown, Chocolate

  • Fruit Color Modifier


  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Light Green, Gray Green

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Cutflower, Mixed Border, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Attracts


  • Self-Sowing