Poppy Seed

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

poppy seed comes from the opium poppy flower, Papaver somniferum, whose unripe pods are incised to collect the latex known as opium, an alkaloid drug that contains a mixture of morphine, heroin, and codeine. The seeds are incapsulated in the poppy pod and harvested only when the plant is fully ripe and the opium latex flow has stopped; if the pod is not incised, the latex can still be removed when the pod is almost completely dried. At this point the seeds are devoid of opiates and are mature enough to yield a satisfactory amount of poppy seed oil, which is one of the major reasons for the plant’s cultivation.