09 January 2014


On the western end of the village, in the Cher river valley, there often are broad fields of red poppies in spring and early summer.

This kind of poppy is called a coquelicot [ko-kli-KOH] in French. It's can become invasive under some conditions, and its seeds are said to be mildly toxic to livestock if they get mixed into the animals' feed. The poppies are kept under control by pesticides.

I hope that the brilliant color in these photos well help brighten up a gray winter day.

Our January temperatures are still nearly 10ºC (that's 15ºF or more) warmer than normal. This morning the temperature is +11ºC (low 50s F) instead of the +1 or 0ºC we would expect at this time of year. Last winter was exceptionally mild too, so I guess we are in a pattern.


  1. I'm so sad to hear the coqueliquot is invasive and toxic to animals, since I so adore them. :(

  2. Okay, let's face it. I'm not going to get the c's and q's in the right place tonight.

  3. I had never heard of poppies being poisonous to livestock?
    But, I've never seen grazing that had poppies in either...

    In East Anglia, poppies are mainly associated with broadleaved crops such as rape [colza / canola]... where it cannot be "sprayed out"...
    And I wouldn't call it invasive...
    more persistant...
    hundreds of seeds per pod...
    and all oil based with a proven lifespan of centuries!
    But the seed is heavy and can only spread where the seed head nods...
    This is why one gets the plant blooming in the same place for many years.

    The reason that they are associated with the remembrance of the Great War is that in the muddy battlefields, they just kept flowering... the explosions there helped spread the seed locally.

    But I love the pictures... I am a sucker for poppy pictures... and boy, are these colourful on a grey day.

  4. I wouldn't call it invasive either. It is considered a weed of grain crops because the seeds contaminate the harvest and give flour a bitter flavour. I seem to remember the seeds are poisonous, but you'd have to eat enormous quantities to get any toxic effect. The seeds have a tremendously long lifespan and can germinate years after falling to the ground. Stock probably have trouble with the latex in the stems rather than the seeds. Many grazing animals will avoid problem plants, but horses in particular are notorious for not being very selective. I've just checked my field guides -- Polunin notes that P. rhoeas is poisonous to livestock, Rose doesn't comment on it.

  5. Well, last winter was mild here, too... didn't mean a thing for this winter!

    I've never seen a field of poppies in person-- lovely photo.

  6. ... and, it was mild most of December.

  7. Le coquelicot :

    est une fleur sauvage qui se ressème spontanément au point de devenir envahissante si on ne la contrôle pas.

    Les graines du coquelicot peuvent rester plusieurs années enfouies dans la terre ; un simple labour les "réveillent" et elles germent.

    Pour beaucoup le coquelicot est considéré comme une mauvaise herbe, principalement lorsqu'il envahit les champs.

    Pourtant, au jardin, il est resplendissant avec ses fleurs aux pétales qui ressemblent à de la soie.

    D'aspect on ne peut plus champêtre les fleurs, mellifères, attirent les abeilles et autres insectes pollinisateurs.

    Autrefois on extrayait une huile des graines de coquelicot, qui était utilisée pour la confection de la peinture à l'huile.

    Par la suite elle a été remplacée par l'huile de lin.

    Les coquelicots se conservent relativement peu de temps en vase ; pour prolonger cette période l'astuce consiste à ébouillanter le bas des tiges.

    Les pétales de coquelicot se consomment en cuisine, mais servent également à confectionner des tisanes et des cosmétiques.

    Attention cependant, bien que considérée comme une plante comestible et médicinale, le coquelicot est à considérer comme une plante relativement toxique dans le jardin. En effet les tiges et les feuilles, entre autres, renferment un latex qui peut s'avérer dangereux tant chez les humains que chez les animaux domestiques.

  8. love em & of course, something that spreads like wildfire like that, I cant manage to grow a small patch in my garden......

  9. My husband's favorite flower, from his childhood in Hungary. Once when we were driving around the countryside he saw a field of them like the ones in your picture and jumped out of the car to take a picture. Suddenly we realized there was a Russian base in the background and he did not photograph anything, we hopped back in the car and drove off. Taking pictures of Russian bases was a good way to get into very bad trouble. I'm glad those days have receded, if not gone altogether.

  10. I think of Flanders field when I see poppies. I can't grow them here, but my Dad had some in KY. Thanks for the photos and thanks to the commenter for adding to the discussion.

  11. I first read of the poppies in France while reading about the first World War in High School. My first viewing was a May trip to Uzes in 1988. The mix of red poppies and green stalks and leaves is absolutely breathtaking. I have driven through the countryside many times since and always marvel at the poppy fields and the sunflower fields. Like thousands of fellow artists they are an integral part of my landscape paintings. Thanks for sharing their color with us.

  12. All, the red poppies really are beautiful, as you have said. It's interesting that the seeds and the plant itself are said to be toxic, even if only mildly, and the plant invasive in some environments and conditions. Oxalis was definitely an invasive plant where we lived in California, but it had beautiful yellow flowers in winter. We had no choice but to admire it during the rainy season. There seemed to be no way to keep it under control.


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