Harvesting Poppy Seeds

While I've worried in the past about the legality of growing opium poppies for the sole purpose of harvesting the edible seeds, this summer I convinced myself it would be fine to try growing the poppy seeds you by at the supermarket. After all, the variety is unknown, but the edibility of the seeds is absolutely assured.

Although the seeds were ridiculously inexpensive (about twenty-five cents for a large quantity), they obviously are not intended for planting. Germination was very poor, and the ornamental qualities were, well, maybe not to everyone's taste. However, at least three plants made it and produced reasonably-sized seedpods:

About two weeks ago, while we were cleaning up in the yard, I snapped the dry heads off the plants. I wasn't sure if they had already dispersed their seeds, or if they were ripe enough. However, after I got tired of them sitting on the kitchen counter, I opened them up to find a surprising quantity of poppy seeds:

Many of the seeds from one seed head appeared immature, but the other two contained seeds that looked just like the ones I planted in the spring. I suppose this isn't surprising, but it seemed like a miracle to me.

I am saving these seeds to try planting again next spring. I am hoping that they will germinate much better than the ones from the supermarket. If I had been planning to use them for baking, I'm not sure how I would have separated the seeds from the chaff effectively. Any ideas from readers?


  1. I use a sieve, or a tea strainer.

  2. I have grown poppies some years. When they open under "the hat" like the one to the right on your picture, it ripe. I turn it upside down (and shake it gently) to collect the seeds. If dust follow I blow cautiosly, the seeds are heavier than the dust. Here is a picture of mine, I'll send you seeds if you like.


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