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Growing Breadseed & Peony Poppies, Illegal or Not?

Posted by hannah82 9b SoCal (My Page) on
Sat, Sep 24, 11 at 15:04

Hello fellow gardeners!

I have always loved poppies and peonies and have always longed to have them in the garden one day. Earlier this spring, I purchased a packet of seeds at the local Lowes home improvement store solely because of the beautiful peony-like blooms pictured on the packet. I figured, if I can't grow peonies here, then might as well grow poppies that look like peonies! A win-win situation right?! At any rate, I stuck them in the refrigerator crisper along with a packet of breadseed poppy seeds, which I received as a bonus for buying oriental poppy seeds at the One Stop Poppy Shoppe, to chill before fall planting. This week I sowed the seeds and decided to sit down at the computer for some in-depth research on growing poppies. However, while cruising the net, I began to read a lot of scary anecdotes and utterly ridiculous reports on the illegality of growing these plants (papaver somniferum and paeoniflorum) in the US due to the potential for being used to manufacture opium, morphine, etc.

If I'm correct in my understanding, according to law, one could sell the seeds and for garden or culinary use but cannot grow the plants-which means the seed companies must grow the plants illegally in order to sell the seeds. One can save the seeds from plants but not be in possession of any poppy straw (dried leaves, stalk, seed pods). Well, you'd have to dry the seed pod before you can obtain any seeds! There are a LOT of contradictory and confusing reports on this issue and now I'm paranoid I could one day be taken away in handcuffs and fined up to a million dollars for growing a few pretty flowers in the yard- Yikes! I'm wondering if anyone, especially those living in/around Southern California, could shed any light on this confounded conundrum.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Growing Breadseed & Peony Poppies, Illegal or Not?

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Sat, Sep 24, 11 at 23:33

Hannah, don't overthink it :)

Annual poppies are widely grown as an ornamental flower throughout North America. While they may be technically illegal, there are no plant police that are going to investigate a home gardener for a few or even more than a few plants. Enjoy them for their color, or for your kitchen where you can add the seeds to your baking.

Just don't plant acreage of poppies and you will have no problems at all. Most of us couldn't extract anything 'recreational' from our poppies even if we did have an interest in doing so :)

There is a house I routinely pass doing errands that plants a large swath of papaver somniferum every year, lots of color, quite pretty. It's one block from our local state patrol office and drivers testing facility.

RE: Growing Breadseed & Peony Poppies, Illegal or Not?

If you're worried (I too worry a bit about that), consider planting the breadseed poppies, peony poppies, and other types of Papaver somniferum in the back yard. In the front yard, use California poppies (Eschscholzia) and corn poppies (Papaver rhoeas--Flanders poppy, Shirley poppies, "Falling in Love," "Dawn Chorus," etc.), which as I understand it do not fall under the questionable legal issues.

You might also want to write to your congressman and senator about changing those ridiculous laws--in fact, I think that's a good idea for all of us. Squeaky wheels get the grease.


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