Poppy seeds are small seeds commonly used in a number of cuisines. Most people are familiar with the black seeds that are used as a decoration in many baked foods, such as bagels. However, white poppy seeds are also popular for a number of uses. Both of these types of seeds can be used as a spice or ground to create a paste used in a variety of dishes. They can also be pressed to produce the edible poppyseed oil, and this oil can also be used in the manufacture of paint, varnish and soap. We now know what poppy seeds are used for so let’s find out where these seeds come from.
Where do poppy seeds come from?
The poppy seeds come from a species of plant known as the opium poppy. The seeds come from a seed pod and the best quality seeds are harvested when the seed pods are ripe and have been dried. The following picture shows the dried poppy seed pods and newly harvested black poppy seeds.
Where did poppy seeds originate from?
Evidence of the opium poppy plant dates back to at least 4000 BC in the modern day region of Iraq. It is considered to be a native plant of south-east Europe and the Middle East. Most of the largest producers of poppy seeds can still be found close this region. Together, Turkey and the Czech Republic produce about 68% of the worldwide supply of poppy seeds. Smaller producers include; Spain, France, Hungary, Croatia, German, Israel, Romania and Austria.
Did you know?
Opium is also obtained from the poppy seed pod. An cut is made in the seed pod and the latex (raw opium) is harvested. This opium contains the important medical drugs codeine and morphine. The morphine can be chemically processed into the illegal drug heroin. Poppy seeds have a much lower level of these natural drugs. However, eating a large number of poppy seeds can lead to a false positive drug test!