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Opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, is the species of plant from which opium and poppy seeds are derived. Opium is the source of many narcotics, including morphine (and its derivative heroin), thebaine, codeine, papaverine, and noscapine. The Latin botanical name means the "sleep-bringing poppy", referring to the sedative properties of some of these opiates. The poppy is the only species of Papaveraceae that is an agricultural crop grown on a large scale. Other species, Papaver rhoeas and Papaver argemone, are important agricultural weeds, and may be mistaken for the crop. The plant itself is also valuable for ornamental purposes, and has been known as the "common garden poppy", referencing all the group of poppy plants. Poppy seeds of Papaver somniferum are an important food item and the source of poppyseed oil, a healthful edible oil that has many uses. It is widely grown as an ornamental flower throughout Europe, North America, South America, and Asia. Papaver somniferum has many sub-species or varieties and cultivars. Colors of the flower vary widely, as do other physical characteristics such as number and shape of petals, number of flowers and fruits, number of seeds, color of seeds, production of opium, etc. The opium poppy is the principal source of most naturally occurring µ-opioid receptor agonist opioids. The opium poppy is, by definition, the root source of all opioids considered opiates. Opiates are extracted from opium and poppy straw. Opium (also called “raw opium”) is the latex harvested by making incisions on the green capsules (seed pods). From opium and poppy straw, alkaloids are extracted such as morphine, thebaine, codeine and oripavine. The opium poppy is the source of two food ingredients: poppy seed and poppyseed oil. The seeds contain very low levels of opiates, and the oil extracted from them contains even less. Both the oil and the seed residue also have commercial uses.
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