Updated: July 2, 2023

The poppy plant, scientifically known as Papaver, is a beautiful flowering plant that belongs to the Papaveraceae family. The plant is widely recognized for its vibrant colors and delicate petals, making it a popular choice for gardens and floral arrangements. However, poppy plants are not only admired for their aesthetics but also valued for their medicinal properties. In this article, we will explore the various types of poppy plants and their unique characteristics.

1. Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale)

The Oriental poppy is one of the most well-known and widely cultivated types of poppy plants. Native to regions in Eastern Europe and Western Asia, this perennial plant is loved for its large, showy flowers that come in a range of colors including red, orange, pink, and white. The Oriental poppy can grow up to 3 feet in height and features hairy stems and leaves. It blooms during late spring and early summer, adding a splash of color to any garden.

2. California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

Unlike the Oriental poppy, the California poppy is an annual plant that is native to the western parts of North America. This vibrant plant is known for its bright orange or yellow flowers that bloom throughout the summer months. The California poppy is drought-tolerant and can thrive in dry, sandy soils, making it a popular choice for xeriscaping gardens. Additionally, this particular type of poppy has been used in traditional Native American medicine for its sedative and pain-relieving properties.

3. Iceland Poppy (Papaver nudicaule)

As the name suggests, the Iceland poppy originates from the subarctic regions of Iceland and other northern parts of Europe and North America. This perennial plant is known for its delicate, papery petals that come in various shades of white, yellow, orange, and pink. Unlike some other types of poppies, the Iceland poppy prefers cooler climates and can withstand frost. It blooms from late spring to early summer, adding a touch of elegance to any garden or floral arrangement.

4. Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum)

The opium poppy is perhaps the most infamous type of poppy plant due to its association with the production of opium, which is used to make drugs such as heroin and morphine. This annual plant is native to Western Asia but is now cultivated in various parts of the world for its seeds, oil, and alkaloids. The opium poppy has distinctive large flowers that come in different colors, including white, pink, purple, and red. While this plant has its dark side, it is also valued for its ornamental qualities and can be grown in gardens for its aesthetic appeal.

5. Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis betonicifolia)

The Himalayan blue poppy is a strikingly beautiful perennial plant that hails from the mountainous regions of the Himalayas. This type of poppy is highly sought after for its unique sky-blue flowers, which bloom during late spring and early summer. Growing the Himalayan blue poppy can be challenging as it requires specific conditions such as cool temperatures, moist soil, and partial shade. However, with proper care and attention, this plant can create a stunning focal point in any garden.

6. Shirley Poppy (Papaver rhoeas)

The Shirley poppy is an annual plant that is native to Europe and North Africa. It is often referred to as the corn poppy or field poppy due to its tendency to grow in agricultural fields. This particular type of poppy is known for its vibrant red petals with black or purple markings at the base. However, it can also produce flowers in shades of pink, white, and purple. The Shirley poppy blooms during the summer months and is a favorite among gardeners for its ability to self-seed, creating a natural and colorful display.


From the showy Oriental poppy to the delicate Himalayan blue poppy, the various types of poppy plants offer a wide range of colors, sizes, and growing conditions. Whether you are looking to add a splash of vibrant color to your garden or seeking medicinal benefits, there is a poppy plant suitable for every purpose. These beautiful flowering plants continue to captivate us with their elegance and versatility, making them a popular choice among both garden enthusiasts and herbalists alike.