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Plantwise Technical Factsheet

common poppy (Papaver rhoeas)

Host plants / species affected
Allium cepa (onion)
Avena sativa (oats)
Beta vulgaris (beetroot)
Brassica napus var. napus (rape)
Daucus carota (carrot)
Helianthus annuus (sunflower)
Hordeum vulgare (barley)
Lens culinaris subsp. culinaris (lentil)
Linum usitatissimum (flax)
Medicago sativa (lucerne)
Panicum miliaceum (millet)
Phaseolus (beans)
Secale cereale (rye)
Solanum tuberosum (potato)
Triticum aestivum (wheat)
Triticum turgidum (durum wheat)
Vicia faba (faba bean)
Vitis vinifera (grapevine)
Zea mays (maize)
P. rhoeas is an annual, or sometimes biennial herb with a branched taproot; stems with milky sap, erect, 10 to 90 cm tall, branched, covered with stiff unbranched hairs; leaves initially formed in rosettes, deeply pinnately lobed, light green; stem leaves few, alternate, upper leaves sessile, lower leaves petiolate, all leaves pubescent; inflorescence solitary on long unbranched peduncles arising from leaf axils; flower stems nod while stem elongates; flowers regular, 3 to 10 cm in diameter; sepals hairy, usually two, dropping as the buds open; petals four in two dissimilar pairs, 2 to 6 cm long, the wider pair enclosing the narrower one in the bud; deep scarlet, bright red, purple or bluish, occasionally white margin, often with a dark spot at petal base; stamens numerous; solitary pistil with nearly flat stigmatic disc with conspicuous membrane; fruit a smooth, tan to brown, globose capsule, 1 to 2 cm wide and nearly twice as long with eight to eighteen apical pores below edge of stigmatic disc; seeds numerous, 0.7 to 1 mm long, 0.5 mm wide, kidney-shaped with reticulate surface, dull purplish-grey or dark brown.

Varietal forms may be distinguished by the following characteristics:

P. rhoeas var. strigosum has oppressed hairs on the flower stalk instead of the usual spreading hairs.

P. rhoeas var. hoffmanianum has normal scarlet petals each with a black or deep-purple blotch at the base which has a distinct white margin.

P. rhoeas var. chelidonioides has yellow as opposed to white sap.

P. rhoeas var. tumidulum from central Greece is a small plant with appressed hispid pedicels and a distinctly stipitate, broadly obovate capsule.

P. rhoeas var. commutatum is a robust variety with distinctly spotted petals and a slightly stipitate, broadly obovoid, capsule.
Prevention and control
Cultural Control

Integrated weed management strategies which combine mechanical weed control, high crop densities, competitive varieties and reduced fertilizer inputs may reduce the need for herbicides to control P. rhoeas. Mechanical weeding using a spring-tine weeder was most effective in autumn in trials in organic winter wheat (Welsh et al., 1996). P. rhoeas is only moderately competitive against wheat and increasing crop densities significantly reduces biomass (Wilson et al., 1995) and seed production (Wilson et al., 1988). High levels of mineral fertilization favour P. rhoeas such that reduced inputs of NPK reduce its competitive effects on crop yield (Borowiec et al., 1986; Baylis et al., 1992).

Chemical Control

Due to the variable regulations around (de-)registration of pesticides, we are for the moment not including any specific chemical control recommendations. For further information, we recommend you visit the following resources:

Biological Control

A number of natural enemies of P. rhoeas have been considered as potential biological control agents. The fungal pathogen, Dendryphion papaveris infected 80% of the leaves of 2 month old P. rhoeas plants (del Serrone et al., 1986) when sprayed as a conidial suspension. The fungus Erysiphe cichoracearum, isolated from P. rhoeas has been shown to be highly host-specific and hence has good potential for biological control (Ialongo, 1982-83). Similarly, the cimbicid poppy sawfly (Corynis similis) from Greece is highly specific to P. rhoeas (Greathead, 1978; Scheibelreiter, 1978a). Whilst the potential for biological control has been widely discussed, no releases or large-scale trials are discussed in the literature.
P. rhoeas is reported as a weed of 23 crops in 43 countries (Holm et al., 1997). It is a serious or principal weed of wheat and winter wheat in the UK, France, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Italy, Morocco, Poland and Spain, and of barley in Greece, Iran, the former Soviet Union and Spain. It also a serious weed of lentils and lucerne in Spain; peas in Ireland and Greece; oil seed rape in the UK, France and Spain and sugar beets in Italy, Spain and Turkey (Holm et al., 1997). Cesari and Catizone (1975) reported P. rhoeas as the most abundant broad-leaved weed in Italy.

P. rhoeas is only moderately competitive. In spring sown cereals, Blackman and Templeman (1938) reported that even at densities as high as 500 to 1000 plants/m² no yield losses occurred as poppy seedlings emerged after the crop had established. The species competes more effectively with winter cereals (Wilson and Wright, 1990). In wheat, it was ranked eighth out of 12 weeds in terms of yield loss (Wilson and Wright, 1990) and in barley, Haizel (1972) found it to be only weakly competitive, being totally replaced by the crop after 12 weeks. Of 11 weed species growing in oilseed rape it was the second most competitive in terms of yield reduction (Lutman et al., 1995).

P. rhoeas acts as an alternative host to a range of economically important crop pathogens. These include beet yellows closterovirus, beet mild yellowing luteovirus and beet western yellows luteovirus (Stevens et al., 1994), artichoke Italian latent nepovirus and turnip mosaic potyvirus (Camele et al., 1991), potato virus X [Potato X potexvirus] (Kaczmarek, 1985), Leveillula taurica (Ullasa and Rawal, 1984) and broad bean wilt fabavirus (Schmelzer et al., 1975).
Related treatment support
External factsheets
HGCA On-Farm Information, Home-Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA), 2010, English language
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