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Poppy Explosion

What is it about poppies?

I don’t get them, but as if I’m entitled to understanding. They are so tender, fragile, delicate, finicky. Their petals are like tissue paper and their fuzzy buds look like they could barely be supported by their thread-like stem. One little bump and the plant falls over. But yet they contain some incredibly powerful medicine, and not just the opium poppy but many plants in the family (Corydalis, California Poppy for two).

An empty lot down the street has been planted with perennial wildflowers by some lovely soul. This person has no idea how much joy they have spread to whomever walks past this lot. Someday soon I will take some photos (or a video?!) and show it to you. The poppies in this lot are unbelievable; so many color and size variations. They bloom in waves. Just when I think the poppy season is over, another color pops up. I have some photos of the other poppies here, at my other blog. (My new blog is called Fall Into Place – A Plant-Filled Life. It’s a more personal blog full of flowers, things around Portland, things that I’ve found. I am a little obsessed).

The deep blood red came out last week. They are taller and larger petaled than the most of the others. There is something about their black center lined with a white sliver moon, like an otherworldly eye staring back at you. I took some home with me and placed them in a jar in my herb nook. 24  hours later they had all but exploded; 2 petals were on the floor. How did they fall so far away from the jar?

I wonder what ancient people saw in this plant. What messages did they have for humanity? What symbols and associations did we decode? Is it just me, or is there an aura of death around this plant?

Just some things to ponder while filling orders. The anthropology student and herbalist in me have a lot to think about.

I know there are answers to these questions, both in books and in the plant itself. I could look it up in a medical anthology text on my bookshelf; there’s probably a whole chapter about poppy, but the curiosity is a more satisfying feeling than the quest for knowledge right now.

On a different note, I so much enjoyed putting together an order for a customer. There are two more tinctures in the making. It’s really neat to have the opportunity to refine my tea formulas when working with custom orders for repeat customers, to modify the flavor and formulation based on the customers’ wishes and constitution. Creating a new facial steam was a great experience; I tried some new herbs (like nettle which I did NOT like as a steam, but glad I tried it anyways) and added fennel and cardamom (which I DID like) per the customers request. It had been so long since I had done an herbal facial steam myself and felt it was effective and somehow really relaxing. All that breathing in of volatile oils, I suppose.

As much as I use herbs for medicine, most of what I sell online is decidable not medical; it is more for pleasing the senses and introducing people to the everyday beauty and well-being of plants. That is a post for another time, my friends.

//What are your thoughts about poppy?//

Filed under: Inspiration


Tea-drinking, nature-loving acupuncturist, East Asian Medicine practitioner, herbalism and birth doula living in the Pacific Northwest.

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