Readers’ wildlife photos

June 29, 2023 • 8:15 am

Several more readers sent in photos, so we’re good for a while. Many thanks to those who did!

Today we have photos of a single plant, but an unusual one, from reader Debra Coplan. Her captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

I came across this magical looking plant in sunny San Diego. This is a Palaver somniferum, or otherwise known as the opium poppy. Below is the opium poppy pod  or seed pod capsule. The top is called the crown and it is a perfect description. I’m pretty sure the pod is  the only portion that can produce the opium. I am no expert. The plant was about 2 1/2 feet tall.

This was a bud ready to bloom on the plant. 2 sepals enclose the maturing flower.

Below is the inside of one of the pods I cut open.  It contained these little white seeds.

After watching this plant for two days, this gorgeous bloom erupted. It was just there so full and wide open in the morning. This bloom was not shy.
The bees were really enjoying it. There were at least four bees inside the bloom. When I got too close, one of the bees  would buzz around my head. I’m assuming they were trying to scare me. It didn’t work. That is one gorgeous flower.

I never noticed or saw it before and I cannot explain how it all of a sudden was there last week. It might have been covered ivy before? Very weird.


I don’t think you are legally allowed to have it in the US. I tried to find information whether it’s legal or not to grow. It might be okay for ornamental growth but you can’t harvest it.

Cheers! Look at that bee! I bet it has consciousness now if it didn’t before.

The plant itself is a little ratty looking but what great treasure it produces……


15 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. So many folks would immediately dismiss that ratty weedy looking plant, but you found a whole fascinating world in it! And were rewarded with that awesome bloom.

  2. My mom unintentionally created a small plantation of P.somniferum in front of her house by disposing residual poppy seeds from baking (for the birds). Now her plantation is safely illegal, because in Germany you are not allowed to have more than 2,5sqm planted with P.somniferum… Fortunately her neighbour is policeman….

    1. That is ok unless he is also a botanist! I had assumed baking/cooking seeds were treated with heat to kill them, but I might buy some as it is cheaper than packaged seed.

      Harvest the opium, & undercut the price of imports! 🤭😀

  3. I laughed out loud when I read your quip about the bee becoming conscious. Perhaps so. Thank you for the post.

  4. I read once that growing opium poppies in the US is illegal if you know it’s illegal. But if you don’t know, you’re OK.

  5. Opium poppies are beautiful…at least the pods and flowers. Thanks for highlighting your unexpected intruder. What I learned from a friend, is you score the pods with a razor and after a while resin wells up and dries. You scrape this off to smoke for consciousness. 🙂 Sorry to steal your joke. I don’t know if it works, I haven’t partaken that form of opium. Though I once smoked “black tar” opium at a Grateful Dead concert…the experience made me understand how it can be addictive.

  6. Gorgeous poppy, Debra. Suggestion just in case you didn’t know already:
    Leave the rest of the seed pods till they dry and are ready for harvesting. You’ll know when they turn brownish and there is a row of tiny holes that appear just beneath the ‘lid’ of the seed pod. Carefully snip off the pods into a bowl or envelope, so the tiny black seeds aren’t lost on the ground. Save the seeds in an envelope or clean, dry jar for dispersal next Spring, and ye shall have many dozens of these plants. They don’t mind poor soil either.

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