Oriental Poppy - Papaver

Alternative names
Papaver orientale
Papaver setiferum

This perennial poppy has large flowers, usually red, pink or orange and often with black basal blotches, but may be white, mauve or plum-coloured.  It has bristly leaves, and may have leafy bracts. Height: 50 to 110 cm. Stem leafy to the top, upper part smoothly haired. Flowers have 4 to 6 petals and measure 8 to 12 cm. This is one of many cultivated plants that escapes into the wild and persists, at least for a time.  It is commonly grown in gardens, and was introduced from SW Asia.  Taxonomy is complicated due to garden hybrids and varieties; three species may be involved, or they may be representative of a single species, P setiferum.   

Similar Species

The oriental poppy of gardens may include three similar species plus intermediates: P orientale, P bracteatum, and P setiferum (formerly P pseudoorientale).  

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

Much larger than the corn poppy or long-headed poppy. 

Recording advice

All specimens believed to be P setiferum, bracteatum or orientale should be recorded as this.  Note whether petals blotched/unblotched, and whether it has leafy bracts or not.


Usually found as a casual garden escape on open or disturbed ground close to habitation.


When to see it

May and June.

Life History

Perennial herb.

UK Status

Infrequent but widespread as an escape from cultivation in England.

VC55 Status

Infrequent as an escape from cultivation in Leicestershire and Rutland. It was not recorded in the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire and is not listed in the current Checklist (Jeeves, 2011).

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map