Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum)

Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum)

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Credit: BRITISH LIBRARY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Opium poppy. 16th century Italian illustration of a, opium poppy plant, (Papaver somniferum), by Gherardo Cibo, 1568. The opium poppy is the source of morphine and its derivative heroin, and has been used for centuries for its narcotic properties. This plate is taken from Discorsi on Dioscorides' De Materia Medica by Pietro Andrea Mattioli, a work of herbal medicine first published in Italy in 1554. Pietro Andrea Mattioli (1501-1577) was an Italian doctor and naturalist who wrote commentaries on De Materia Medica , an encyclopaedia of herbal medicine by the first century Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides.

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