Arrest The Federal Gardeners?



When I visited the amazing and wonderful United States National Arboretum with Susan Harris ten days ago, I was amused to see the seedpods of what appeared to be opium poppies.

Scroll down this DEA bulletin to the seizure of poppy plants, and you'll see that the DEA's position is that growing Papaver somniferum is illegal.  But gardeners, including me, plant the seeds anyway–the plant is too beautiful not to grow!  At least, we do it once, and then the amazingly well engineered seed pods take over and scatter the seed in our gardens forever more.  In 1997, Michael Pollan wrote a superb piece about the ways in which this county's confusion over garden poppies illustrates our larger confusion, as a culture, about the "war on drugs."


  1. Oh.


    We grew opium poppies in the school garden, sown in with the fava beans. Didn’t think they had even sprouted until I saw a few pretty flowers, then forgot them again until I was clearing out the favas and found the pretty seedpods. And I gave those seedpods to the science teacher. Well, they are pretty !

    Hmm … I can see the headlines now : “Mom Busted for Planting Illicit Crops in Elementary School Garden”.

    Or “School Garden’s Unique Fundraiser Lands Mom in Jail”.

  2. And I possess marijuana, but only in the form of herbarium specimens. Still you worry a bit about over zealous law enforcers who want a “drug bust” on their brag sheet.
    If you dead headed the poppy flowers, not letting the fruit develop, well, they wouldn’t resow themselves, but you wouldn’t have any raw opium around either, which is obtained by wounding the still green, nearly mature fruits, and then collecting the gummy, dried latex. Then again you eat the seeds on rolls all the time. So much ado about nothing, unless you get a DEA idiot, and having dealt with permits and inspections for controlled substances, even when used for non-medical purposes, me thinks many of them are.

  3. I’m SO glad you loved the Arboretum – I sure do. And SO glad you visited.
    Thanks for the pole bean seeds, which arrived yesterday and are now in pots on my deck.

  4. At my community garden in Los Angeles, breadseed poppies self-sow all over the p[lace. Many of us collect the seed of the fluffy double flowers to share with friends. It’s my understanding that the seeds sold here in the US have had all, well most, of the druggy bit bred out.

  5. Surprised all the seed pods are still there. When I grew them up in Mendocino garden visitors would snatch them the moment the last petal fell. I guess the residents of Mendocino county are more familiar with Opium tea than the residents of DC.

  6. What’s going on West of the rockies. Land buyers use to be free. Now it’s full of regulations. Gopher’s ruled agains’t Bill Murray’s movie. Big Gov doe’s too now. Protect varmint’s land. They are the rat!! !

  7. Land is sacred once you own it. You gotta pay over and over again. When you can’t afford to pay taxes ten years down the road hold on, you’re better than creeps walking the streets taking a crap shoot that stealing is better. Beware! Spend time in prison for shooting meth theives in Lewis County WA. Judge Hunt sends a guy to prison for 5 years cause he was protecting his property from druggy theives.
    An injustice for the shooter and for me cause they stole seven hundred dollars worth of merchandise that I never got back.
    The courts in Lewis County Chehalis WA let really bad asses go free. Nasty connections

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