The opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) is an annual plant that flowers bright red or white (depending on variety) and grows across the temperate zones of Asia and Europe. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘common garden poppy’. The seeds, which contain very low levels of opiates, are often used by the food industry in products such as poppy seed bread/cake, or to produce poppy seed oil for use in cooking.

The sap is extracted by scratching or scoring the pod of the plant; the milky, sticky substance that emerges is the opium. Codeine and morphine are the main opiates that are found in this substance, and are the most sought after products from the poppy in its natural form.