Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Plant profile: Glaucium (Horned Poppy)

Glaucium grandiflorum
(Orange Horned Poppy)
Here’s an interesting group of plants from the poppy family. Glaucium (Horned Poppy) is a genus of about 25 species of annual, biennial or perennial plants. They commonly grow in saline habitats, like along coasts and in salt pans. The name "Horned Poppy" comes from their seed pods, which are long, thin and curved like a horn, and can be up to a foot long in some species. The Latin name "Glaucium" comes from the Greek "Glaukos" which means "ashen" or "pale" due to the silvery stems and leaves of the plant

Latin name: Glaucium (pronounced "GLAW-kee-um")
Common name: Horned Poppy.
Originally from: Europe, North Africa and Southwest and Central Asia.
Blooms: Yellow, orange, or red.
Light: Full sun!
Water: Drought tolerant
Where to find in P. Garden: The brights bed has a group of each of the species mentioned.

We have two types at PG:
Glaucium grandiflorum (Orange Horned Poppy): Orange flowers cover it from spring through December, and the foliage is a silvery-blue, blowsy web of leaves. Native to Turkey and Iraq.

Glaucium flavum (Yellow Horned Poppy): Native of Western Europe. We saw these thriving on the beach in Crete, and knew right away they’re tough plants. They have clear yellow flowers and silvery fern-like foliage.

Glaucium grandiflorum
(Orange Horned Poppy)
The key to keeping Glaucium happy is awful, sandy soil; “treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen” is the key here - they have more silvery foliage and tend to be perennial if grown in poor-quality soil. Great for your xeric or beach garden!

These plants contain a chemical called glaucine. According to Wikipedia, "Glaucine is the main alkaloid component in Glaucium flavum. Glaucine has bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory effects, acting as a PDE4 inhibitor and calcium channel blocker, and is used medically as an antitussive in some countries. Glaucine may produce side effects such as sedation, fatigue, and a hallucinogenic effect characterized by colorful visual images, and has recently been detected as a recreational drug."

An oil obtained from the seed is used for as a fuel for lighting, it burns cleanly. It is also used in soap making. The yellow sap from the plant's stems is said to cure warts, and among the Bedouins Glaucium arabicum (known to them as "na'aman") is used as a treatment for conjunctivitis in livestock. It has also been used for cataracts in humans, and its use in treating viruses like herpes, flu and mumps, and various cancers, is being studied. However, due to very poisonous side effects home treatment with this plant is not recommended at all!

UPDATE June 2016: Due to too much "good" soil (ie not straight sand) ours got big and shrubby and blew out. None survived, but they put on a great show before they went!.

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