Stunning red blooms with black centres, the red poppy is one of the best know and most attractive of all annual flowers. The plant is a variable annual, forming a long-lived soil seed bank that can germinate when the soil is disturbed. In the northern hemisphere it generally flowers in late spring, but if the weather is warm enough other flowers frequently appear at the beginning of autumn. The flower is large and showy, with four petals that are vivid red, most commonly with a black spot at their base. Like many other species of Papaver, it exudes a white latex when the tissues are broken. It is known to have been associated with agriculture in the Old World since early times. 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. The leaves and latex have an acrid taste and are mildly poisonous to grazing animals.
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