Small-flowered opium poppy habit

Young plant forms a rosette


Close up of leaf

Bud enclosed by 2 sepals which fall away when opens.


Young seedling

Scientific Name

Papaver somniferum ssp. setigerum (DC.) Thell

Common Names

small-flowered opium poppy, small opium poppy, wild poppy




Native of Europe and Mediterranean


An annual bluish-green fast growing erect annual herb growing up to 1 to 1.5m tall. This weed has paper-like pink to pale violet to violet colouring in the flowers with a purple-black spot at the base.



A widespread weed in NSW of roadsides, disturbed areas and occasionally cultivated areas such as wheat crops and fallows. It also occurs in QLD, VIC, SA and NT.

General Description

Stems and Leaves:

The cotyledons (seed leaves) are spear shaped, with a pointed apex and a smooth margin (edge). The first leaves are oval, with a pointed apex. They have scattered hairs on the upper surface and a smooth margin. They are joined to the stem via a petiole (stalk) forming a dense rosette. Also the first leaves have a frosted appearance often dull, blue-green. The mature leaves are stem clasping (without petioles); have toothed margins and pointed apex

Flowers and Fruit:

Flowers have large petals and are attached at the end of a long, hairy stalk (peduncle). Flowers can be up to 4cm in diameter with four pink to pale violet to violet petals with a purple-black spot at the base of the petals. The two sepals shed as the flower opens. The fruit is a hairless globular capsule 1-1.5cm in diameter on a long stalk. The capsule is dull or bluish-green in colour, with 7-8 ray like ridges at the top. On maturity, pores beneath the ridges, open releasing the seeds which are small and dull blue-grey to black in colour with honeycomb-like surfaces.


Distinguishing characteristics

Papaver somniferum ssp. setigerum is a bluish-green fast growing erect annual herb that grows up to 1 to 1.5 m tall. Papaver somniferum ssp. setigerum is considerably smaller than Papaver somniferum ssp. somniferum (cultivated opium poppy). P. somniferum ssp. somniferum can be distinguished by its large flowers which are up to 10cm in diameter and fruit that is up to 3cm in diameter with the pores on the fruit remaining closed at maturity. The stems are covered with stiff hairs in P. somniferum ssp. setigerum in contrast to stems glabrous (without hairs) in P. somniferum ssp. somniferum. The leaves are also greener in ssp.  setigerum when compared to ssp.  somniferum

Sources & References

Auld BA, Meld RW (1992) 'Weeds an illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia.' (Inkata Press: Melbourne)

Everist SL (1974) 'Poisonous plants of Australia.' (Angus and Robertson Publishers: Australia)

Felfoldi EM (1993) 'Identifying the weeds around you.' (Inkata Press: Victoria)

Harden GJ (Ed) (2002) 'Flora of New South Wales.' (University of New South Wales Press Ltd: Sydney, Australia)

Parsons WT, Cuthbertson EG (2001) 'Noxious weeds of Australia.' 2nd edn. (CSIRO publishing: Sydney)

Weber E (2003) 'Invasive plant species of the world: A reference guide to environmental weeds.' (CABI publishing: United States)

Wilson S (1997) 'Some plants are poisonous.' (Reed Books Australia: Victoria)

Wilson  B Dr, Hawton D Dr, Duff AA (1995) ' Crop weeds of northern Australia.' (Manager Publishing Services: Brisbane)

Department of Agriculture Government of Western Australia (2004) 'Weeds, pests and diseases'


Prepared by Kylie Pethybridge, 2005

Checked by Carole Campbell, 2005

Updated by Justin KY Chu, July 2005

Checked by Dr Peter Michael, July 2005