If you check the RHS entries for your Oriental Poppies, you’ll see they are no longer ‘Papaver orientale’, but are now ‘Papaver (Oriental Group)’.
Oriental poppies for the garden were bred from three different species: Papaver bracteatum, Papaver orientale, and Papaver pseudo-orientale (now Papaver setiferum). These three species were crossed again and again to make the hybrids that we know and love until the plants in our gardens can no longer be associated with any particular species. And so, they have become Papaver (Oriental Group).
Papaver orientale and P. setiferum have a suckering habit, while P. bracteatum is clump-forming, as well as being taller (to four feet) and more erect. So, if your poppy starts to send up suckers around it, you know which of the species probably dominates in its breeding.
The coloured hybrids, other than the standard pillar box red, have only been around since 1906, when British nurseryman Amos Perry spotted a salmon pink flower among a bed of red, and named it ‘Mrs Perry’. The rest is history.
It’s now poppy season, and we’ve already had the odd image. Here are some more.
‘Beauty of Livermere’ – this is very tall and erect, and is probably closest to P. bracteatum.
Name unknown to the gardener supplying the image, but very beautiful.
‘Harlem’, from the New York series
They may be fleeting, but perhaps that just makes them all the more attractive.