In the footsteps of the Poppy

Online Exhibition

Papaver Somniferum. Source: SAplants, Wikimedia Commons

Flowers leave traces in the past

The poppy: a beautiful red flower that grows wild in the cereal fields of Europe. The poppy comes in many different shapes, sizes and species globally. They all belong to a large plant family of the genus Papaveraceae. Within that family, one member is extremely well known. It concerns the Papaver Somniferum, also known as the opium poppy, from which opium has been harvested for several millennia. Opium was arguably one of the first drugs to be used by humans.

The poppy has left numerous traces in history due to the (in-)famous effects of its milky juice. This virtual exhibition follows that trail from the 17th to the 21 century. How was the legendary 'miracle ingredient' used and processed? By what routes did opium and opiates reach consumers? Were opium and its derivatives seen as harmless stimulants or addictive killers?

Dive into the spectacular history of the Papaver Somniferum and discover the many faces of the world of opium and opiates!

Click here to view the exhibition on the website of the National Pharmaceutical Museum.