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Class XIII. POLYANDRIA. Order I. MONOGYNIA.
one-celled, opening by pores under the persistent stigma. Spe. Char. Capsule glabrous, globose. Stem hairy, and many
flowered. Leaves pinnatifid, incised.
The root is annual, simple, fibrous; the stalk is upright, branched, having hairs standing at right angles with the stem, which' rises from one to two feet in height; the leaves are pinnated, toothed, hairy on both sides, and at the base sheath-like; the peduncles are slender, furnished with hairs like the stem, and each supports a single flower, the calyx consists of two leaves, which are ovate, rough, concave, and deciduous; the corolla is composed of four petals, which are large, spreading, roundish, unequal, of a bright scarlet color, and marked at the base with a shining black spot; the filaments are numerous, slender, purplish, and furnished with roundish, compressed antheræ; the germen is egg-shaped, and truncated at the top; there is no style ; the stigma is convex and radiated— the radii of a purple color, and permanent; the capsule answers the description given of the germen ; it is smooth, marked with several longitudinal projecting lines, which are in number equal to the radii of the stigma, and at the top it is scolloped; the radii are numerous, minute, and of a purple color.
This plant is quite common in cornfields, and flowers in June and July. It is a native of Europe, but has been introduced and culti
vated in this country. It may be distinguished from the P. dubium, to which it bears a general resemblance, by its urn-shaped capsules, and by the hairs upon the peduncles standing in a horizontal direction.
Medical Properties and Uses. The capsules of this species, like those of the Somniferum, contain a milky juice of a narcotic quality, and an extract has been prepared from them having the properties of opium; but the quantity is too small to repay the trouble of its preparation. The petals are the officinal portion; they have a narcotic smell, and a mucilaginous, slightly bitter taste. By drying they lose their odor, and assume a violet red color. The flowers have a smell similar to that of opium. A syrup made of them has been recommended as being useful as an anodyne and pectoral, and is therefore prescribed in coughs and catarrhal affections; but from all that we can gather, from an extensive catalogue of botanical works, and our own limited experience, as regards the medicinal properties of this plant, it seems that it is more highly valued for the beauty of its colors than for its virtues as a medicine.