The Poppy Family

Common Poppy Common Poppy Greater Celandine Common Poppy

What are they?

Though the red poppies of cornfields and the white Mexican poppies of the dry south-west USA are probably well-known to many, this family also includes an array of other species with red, white, pink, yellow or even blue flowers. Many have milky sap and most have distinctive seed capsules.

Where are they found?

True poppies in the genus Papaver are generally found as weeds of arable land, gardens and disturbed ground.


Identification to a narrow group is possible on the flowers, after that the seed capsules are most useful to identify poppies to species.

Common Poppy      Papaver rhoeas

(Field Poppy) There appears to be few records of this European species in New Jersey, but it may occasionally be found where sown as part of an arable 'wild flower' mix (as at Seagrove Avenue, Cape May Point in 2011). Flowers June to August. Flowers usually brilliant red or scarlet, with or without black and white blotches at the base. Cultivated forms (often called Shirley Poppies) may also have white or pink flowers.
Common Poppy Common Poppy Common Poppy Common Poppy
Flowers occasionally paler
Flower bud
Seed capsule

Greater Celandine      Chelidonium majus

Introduced from Europe. Occasionally found in areas of disturbed ground close to gardens and similar areas. Flowers April to July. A good identification feature of this species is the bright orange sap that is exposed if a leaf or stem is broken.
Greater Celandine Greater Celandine Greater Celandine Greater Celandine
Orange sap
Seed capsules

Californian Poppy      Eschscholzia californica

Introduced from Western North America. Crops up from time to time as a constituent of so-called 'wildflower mixes' and occasionally persists for a short while. Flowers July to September. Brilliant orange flowers and finely cut, bluish-green foliage are distinctive.
Californian Poppy Californian Poppy Californian Poppy
Flower bud