Rhoeados Petala. Br.

Rhoeados Petala. Br.

Red Poppy Petals

"Red-Poppy Petals are the fresh petals of Papaver Rhoeas, Linn." Br.

Corn Poppy, Corn Rose; Coquolicot, Fr. Cod.; Pavot rouge, Fr.; Wilder Mohn, Klapperrose, Llatschroaen, G.; Rosolaccio, It.; Amapola (Flor de), Sp.

The red or corn poppy, Papaver Rhoeas, is distinguished by its hairy stem, which is branched, and rises about a foot in height, by its incised pinnatifid leaves, by its urn-shaped capsule, and by the full, bright, scarlet color of its petals. It is a native of Europe, where it grown wild in great abundance, adorning especially the fields of grain with its brilliant flower. It has been naturalized in this country.

Its capsules contain the same kind of milky juice as that found in P. somniferum, and an extract has been prepared from them having the properties of opium; but the quantity is too small to repay the trouble of its preparation. Filhol has shown that the extract contains morphine, but in a proportion exceedingly minute compared with that in which it exists in opium. The petals are the official portion. They have a characteristic odor, and a mucilaginous, slightly bitter taste. By drying, they lose their odor, and assume a violet-red color. "Transversely elliptical, about five centimetres wide, bright scarlet, smooth and lustrous; margin entire. Characteristic, somewhat unpleasant odor; taste slightly bitter." Br.

Chevallier believed that he had detected a very minute proportion of morphine in an extract obtained from them; but Attfield seems to have determined satisfactorily the non-existence of morphine in the petals, having sought this alkaloid by three different processes, using a pound of the petals in each experiment, and failed to detect the least evidence of its presence. (P. J., Oct., 1873, p. 291.) Their operation on the system is exceedingly feeble, and they are valued more for their beautiful scarlet color, which they communicate to water, than for their medicinal virtues. According to Leo Meier, the coloring principles of the flowers are two acids, which he denominates rhoeadic and papaveric acids. (See A. J. P., xviii, 211.) A syrup is prepared from them, which was formerly prescribed as an anodyne in catarrhal affections, but is now little esteemed except for its color.

An alkaloid was discovered in this species of poppy by O. Hesse, who proposed to name it rhoeadine. It seems to pervade all parts of the plant, from which, as the first step in its preparation, an aqueous extract is prepared. This is treated with sodium carbonate, and repeatedly agitated with ether; the ethereal liquid is shaken with a solution of sodium bitartrate, and the mixture is precipitated by ammonia. The precipitate is washed with cold water, dried, and boiled with alcohol, by which coloring matter and another alkaloid in small quantity, probably thebaine, are removed. The residue, consisting mainly of rhoeadine, is purified by combining it with acetic acid, treating with animal charcoal, and precipitating with ammonia. The alkaloid is in small white prismatic crystals, tasteless, fusible at 232.2° C. (450° F.), becoming brown at the same temperature and partially subliming. It is almost insoluble in water, alcohol, ether, chloroform, benzene, ammonia, solution of sodium carbonate, and lime water, but is dissolved by dilute acids, which produce colorless solutions. Its composition is represented by the formula C21H21O6N. It does not appear to be poisonous. Hydrochloric and sulphuric acids, moderately concentrated, decompose and dissolve it, with the production of a purple color, which disappears under the action of the alkalies, but is restored by acids. One part of the alkaloid so treated produces a purple color with 10,000 parts of water, rose color with 20,000 parts, and a perceptible redness with 800,000 parts. This change is dependent upon the liberation from the rhoeadine of a red coloring matter, while the isomeric rhoeagenine remains. This forms small white tasteless prisms, which fuse at 223° C. (433.4° F.) and do not sublime, but are decomposed at higher temperatures. This is a very delicate test, by means of which the alkaloid may be detected in all parts of Papaver Rhoeas, in the ripe capsules of the opium poppy, and in opium itself. It is said also to exist in Merck's prophyroxine. (A. J. P., 1867, p. 122.) According to Hesse, the milky juice also contains meconic acid.

Off. Prep.—Syrupus Rhoeados, Br.

The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.