2023 Grateful 28: Is it a poppy or a poppy?

A field of poppies, I said. Red and purple. I’ll take you to see them. I said it in Hungarian though. Piros és lila mák. What wasn’t making sense?

It turns out that what I thought were poppies (mák) were actually pipacs. It doesn’t help that any dictionary I used translates both Hungarian words to poppy. But they’re different. I did some checking.

Pipacs, they’re the poppies I know. Papaver rhoeas, to give them their Latin name. They’re wildflowers. And if you’ve ever wondered why they grow on the edge of fields rather than in them, it’s because the chemicals used on the crops have evicted them.

The bright red flowers have four petals and a black base. They grow from 40 to 80 cm tall and I read that their petals were once used to enhance the colour of red wine.

If you dry the petals, you can use them to make tea, which will help relieve a sore throat or a cough.

Close up of a red poppy, a delicate red wildflower with four petals and a black inside. IN the middle there's what looks like a small acorn - but it's part of the flower. The background is a blur of green foilage.

Mák, on the other hand, are one of the oldest cultivated plants. They come in red, white, and purple. These are the opium ones – apparently their cocoon contains a milky substance that is the basis for the drug when dried. I read that back in the day, this was used in a decoction for crying, restless babies. And these are the ones that the poppy seeds come from, the ones found in bagels and pitas and such. I’m not a fan. Of the seeds I love the flowers.

You need a permit to grow the white ones in Hungary as they have a higher amount of the active stuff.

Close up of a purple poppy sowing the cocoon ( looks like small green acrorn). The background is a blur of green foilage.

I took FM back there today to see the clover but it had died off to a dark black-red that looks pre-harvesty. The poppies (mák and pipacs both) were still doing well and in the middle was a long, new stretch of what I called daisies.

But there are daisies and there are daisies.

A field of Chamomila - small white daisies growing in clumps. Sprinkled throughout are purple poppies.

What we saw last week in Gétye were margarétás. They are not to be confused with what we saw today, chamomile. Given that there are about 20 000 types of daisies, I don’t feel so bad about not knowing this. While there was a time when the country was covered in these flowers, FM hadn’t seen any in about five years and was all excited about the thought of drying the flowers to make what is apparently a rather expensive pure tea to buy.

I learned a lot today. And am grateful for the lessons. One day, our back field will look like this.

A field of red and purple poppies with small daisies.

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