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POPPY : Papaveraceae

OK, we know this is a poppy. But which one? Poppies found in the UK range widely and include the common poppy, the Welsh poppy, the Iceland poppy, wood poppy and others. The trouble is that they are popular and easy to grow. Some escape into the countryside and some variations are bred. 

COMMON POPPY : Papaver rhoeas

The common poppy, papaver rhoeas, the one most symbolic of Poppy Day, is bright red. It is not as common anymore as its name tries to suggest. Although it has such strong historical and emotional connoitations, it has been in decline due to intensive agricultural practices. The trouble has been that it was considered a weed of cornfields. These days it can be found on roadside verges, waste ground and edges of fields. In some areas it has made a come-back through seeding and the promotion of wild flowers.

These examples are on the Clyde shore at Cardross. Possibly escapees from a garden in such an unlikely spot, but thriving in the sandy soil.

It is the end of June. Many poppies are still in flower, but others are developing their seed heads.

ICELAND POPPY : Papaver nudicaule

Those poppies found in West Dunbartonshire in gardens and along paths appear to be the Iceland poppy papaver nudicaule and variations thereof. Although anyone visiting the Artic Circle will be very surprised at the range of flowers in the short summer, in spite of its name, it does not actually come from Iceland (although the northern island of Iceland are within the circle). They are native to the cool or mountainous habitats in Asia and North America and are naturalised in Europe including here in Scotland..

The second part of the Iceland poppy's scientific name of Papaver nudicaule means ‘naked stem’ in Latin. They can be white, pink, red, yellow or orange in colour.  

We have historical records of the Iceland poppies first arriving in London in the early 1700s. The first person to successfully grown them in England was Peter Collinson, a cloth merchant and gardener from London.

By October, the memories of the colourful glory of spring and summer is almost gone, but we can still find a Iceland poppy or two along the Leven towpath. This one is pushing through amongst nettle leaves.

BELOW : Comparison with a buttercup.

Poppy -above.

Buttercup above.


Poppies are popular in gardens and it is unsurprising that new varieties are created. This one shows just how easily it is for non-native species to creep out of gardens and into our "natural" areas. It was found on the upper Leven towpath and is most probably a "Victoria Louise". 

BRITANNICA : https://www.britannica.com/plant/Iceland-poppy

NATURE SPOT : https://www.naturespot.org.uk/family/papaveraceae

TEN RANDOM FACTS : https://tenrandomfacts.com/iceland-poppy/#:~:text=Iceland%20poppies%20first%20arrived%20in%20London%2C%20England%20in,Collinson%2C%20a%20cloth%20merchant%20and%20gardener%20from%20London.

WIKIPEDIA : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papaver_nudicaule#:~:text=Native%20to%20subpolar%20regions%20of%20Asia%20and%20North,stems%20among%20feathery%20blue-green%20foliage%201-6%20inches%20long.

WILD LIFE TRUSTS : https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/wildflowers/common-poppy

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