Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Gelincik which means little bride, is the Turkish name for Papaver rhoeas. We all know this very special wild flower as field poppy, corn poppy, coquelicot or Flanders poppy. I consider it a privilege to have been acquainted with this poppy as a child. My experiences help me relate with enthusiasm to how these flowers must have inspired the famous French impressionist painter Claude Monet in creating his landscapes of poppy fields.

Poppy Field was shown to the public at the first Impressionist exhibition held in the photographer Nadar’s disused studio in 1874. The young woman with the umbrella and the child in the foreground are believed to be the artist's wife, Camille, and their son Jean.

Papaver rhoeas is also the remembrance flower. People have always noticed how the poppy grows in war fields. In the spring of 1915 poppies were one of the few plants able to bloom on the extensively damaged battlefields of Flanders-Belgium, France and Gallipoli-Turkey. In Flanders Fields, the war poem which mentions poppies was written during the First World War by Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. Poppies became the internationally recognized symbol of remembering the great loss of life and those who have died in war. The wearing of poppies in the days leading up to Remembrance Day is popular in the Commonwealth Nations, particularly Great Britain, Canada and South Africa, and in the days leading up to ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand. The flower continues to help the living as a means of raising funds to support those in need as a result of war.

Canadian remembrance poppies

P. rhoeas is a flowering plant in the poppy family Papaveracea. The only species of Papaveraceae grown as a field crop on a large scale is Papaver somniferum, the opium poppy.

The origin of P. rhoeas is not known for certain. It is suggested to be the lands where agriculture has been practiced since the earliest times which would be the Middle East, Asia Minor and North Africa. This makes it an agricultural or arable weed, hence the definition as field or corn poppy. “It has most of the characteristics of a successful weed of agriculture. These include an annual lifecycle that fits into that of most cereals, a tolerance of simple weed control methods, the ability to flower and seed itself before the crop is harvested.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papaver_rhoeas)

P. rhoeas has an acrid taste and it is mildly poisonous to grazing animals. Bees love it as a pollen source. As many other species of Papaver, P. rhoeas also exudes a white latex when the tissues are broken.

The P. rhoeas flowers are in full bloom from late spring to early summer. About 5 cm in diameter, the showy, vivid red flowers have four petals with a black spot at their base. The petals are luminous and as delicate as butterfly wings. They are crumpled in the bud and as blooming finishes the petals often lie flat before falling away. The plant is monocarpic meaning that it dies after flowering. The stems grow up to 20-25cm in height.


I loved the color red very much when I was a child. During our spring outings to the country side it was exhilarating to find red poppies as far as the eye could see. I made little princesses by prying open the tips of the closed buds to form a courtly gown. Infrequently, the petals inside the bud would appear as dusty pink or orange. This made for different color skirts. I would try to place the capsules that had lost their petals on top of the skirts as the head. Ah, memories of young joy do not fade.


  1. Hi Beste - the poppy is an amazingly resilient plant ... so beautiful too - when seen close up, or in swathes across the countryside. John McCrae's poem has the most evocative words .. lovely to read this ... our Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph is on Sunday, thought November the 11th is on the Tuesday ...

    Cheers Hilary

  2. I never remember that gelincik means poppy. Maybe this post will help me...

  3. Hem guclu hem zarif...
    Tum zamanlarin en sevdigim cicegi :)