Saturday, December 28, 2013

Silky yellow sea poppy

Glaucium flavum - Yellow-horned poppy - peprin isfar
The yellow horned poppy is one of the few indigenous plants that flowers during the summer. It is a biennial or a short-lived perennial. The flowers are similar in size and structure to those of the common poppy but are yellow instead of red.
The seeds are formed in a long thin pod.
The yellow horned poppies is native to many parts of Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. It was introduced in many parts of the United States and in some places it is considered as a weed.
In Malta it is most common along the north and east coast of Malta. It grows near the sea and is never found far inland. It prefers sandy areas but it can also be common in rocky areas especially in dust or soil-filled depressions.
In Maltese the yellow horned poppy is known as peprin isfar.
The leaves are thick and leathery, an adaptation to life close to the sea. The thick leaves store water in them and they are covered in a layer of wax which stops water from being lost through them.
The first flowers appear in late April, although it is not easy to find a plant in flower so early in the season as they start flowering in earnest in early June.
Like many other plants, the yellow horned poppy is both poisonous and medicinal. Every part of the plant is toxic and eating it can result in respiratory failure and even death. A clear yellow oil is obtained from the seeds. The plant’s main medicinal component is known as glaucine. This substance has properties similar to those of codeine. It is used in some countries as an antitussive but it can have side effects such as sedation, fatigue and can also bring about hallucinations. 
Thos article was published in the Times of Malta on 4 September 2013

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