I always have lots of volunteer corn poppies, Papaver rhoeas (see
) on my lot. Some are
already up now (they sprout in the fall and bloom in the spring here in
eastern North Carolina). I have often wondered why they are called "corn
poppies." This summer I put old corn stalks in some of the walkways in my
garden, and that is exactly where the first volunteer corn poppies have now
sprouted. I wonder if that is why they call them corn poppies, because old
corn stalks provide a good cover for the poppy seeds until it is time for
them to sprout.
Well, those flowers got the name "corn poppies" in England, where corn is a
generic name for grain (usually wheat) but almost never for "corn", which
they call maize - so I'm guessing that your theory is not a very sound one.
But corn poppies preferentially seed themselves on disturbed ground, where
they germinate very well - and since vegetable gardens are often weeded in
the fall and wheat fields are usually plowed in the fall as preparation for
either fall or spring seeding, the poppies are very happy to sprout in those
No, it is a European term. "Corn" in Europe meant grain rather than
American corn. The poppies were common in grain fields. They are
also called "field poppies."
BTW, because of modern intensive farming methods, corn poppies are
rare in European fields.
J. Del Col
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