The White Poppy.

Botanical name: 

Papaver album.

Also see: The White Poppy. - Black Poppy. - Red Poppy.

A tall and beautiful plant, kept in our gardens, a native of the warmer climates. It grows a yard and half high: the stalk is round, smooth, upright, and of a bluish green; the leaves are very long, considerably broad, and deeply and irregularly cut in at the edges; they are also of a bluish green colour, and stand irregularly on the stalk. The flowers are very large and white, one stands at the ton of each division of the stalk; when they are fallen, the seed-vessel, or poppy head, grows to the bigness of a large apple, and contains within it a very great quantity of small whitish seeds, with several skinny divisions.

When any part of the plant is broken, there flows out a thick milky juice, of a strong, bitter, and hot taste, very like that of opium, and full as disagreeable.

The heads are used with us, and sometimes the seeds. Of the heads boiled in water, is made the syrup of diacodium. The heads are to be dried for this purpose, and the decoction is to be made as strong as possible, and then boiled up with sugar. The seeds are beaten up into emulsions with barley water, and they are good against stranguries, and heat of urine: they have nothing of the sleepy virtue of the syrups, nor of the oilier pails or preparations of the poppy. Syrup of diacodium, puts people to deep, but gently, and is safer than opium or laudanum.

Opium is nothing more than the milky juice of this plant concreted; it is obtained from the heads: they cut them while upon the plant in the warmer countries, and the juice which flows out of the wound, hardens and becomes opium: they make an inferior kind also, by bruising and sqeezing the heads. Laudanum is a tincture of this opium made in wine. Either one or the other is given to compose people to sleep, and to abate the sense of pain; they are also cordial and promote sweat; but they are to be given with great care and caution, for they are very powerful, and therefore they may be very dangerous medicines. It is good to stop violent purgings and vomiting, but this must be effected by small doses carefully given. The present practice depends upon opium and bleeding for the cure of the bite of a mad dog: but it is not easy to say that any person ever was cured, who became thoroughly distempered from that bite. One of the strongest instances we have known, was in a person at St. George's hospital, under the cure of Dr. Hoadly, there was an appearance of the symptoms, and the cure was effected by this method.

The Family Herbal, 1812, was written by John Hill.