Poppy Seeds Popping (On Keeping the Seed Harvest Out of My Dog’s Mouth)

Perhaps it is a small observation, but one worth noting. This morning while working in the kitchen, I witnessed some of the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) seedpods that I had set aside to fully dry bursting open and spilling their contents all around and onto the floor. The sound that they made as the seeds hit my enamel top kitchen table was audible and I wondered for a moment if it was raining.

Later in the day I went back into the kitchen for my afternoon coffee break and discovered more seedpods had burst and spilled their micro-sized contents all around.

While I was unsure about this particular poppy’s chemical constitution (I am always careful to wash my hands thoroughly after collecting the pods), the sight of them spilling onto the floor did make me pause and consider the myriad of garden collected seeds and seedpods that I have sitting in bowls, trays, and shallow dishes around the house at this time of year. I am used to living with an adult human and a cat who couldn’t be bothered with my strange human messes. But since last January we have welcomed a scruffy dog into our life, and like most dogs she is a living Hoover, vacuuming up anything that seems even remotely edible from any surface within reach. Everything is a potential snack until it has been tested and either rejected or approved. This made me think about those of you with young children who collect and save seeds from your garden. I don’t know how you do it. The task is rife with so much potential for little seeds ending up in little mouths.

I consulted a number of books on my shelves in search of an answer as to California poppy’s toxicity, and found it in Marjorie Harris’ “Botanica“:

“The California poppy contains many of the poppy family’s analgesic compounds without the narcotic opiates.”

However, the passage goes on to list a number of edible and medicinal applications of various parts of the plant by a range of North American native communities. One of these uses is as a nonaddictive herbal sedative. So yeah, not something I want my dog to ingest.

With that in mind, I moved the popping poppies to a deeper bucket where they can pop away without ending up in Molly’s stomach.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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2 thoughts on “Poppy Seeds Popping (On Keeping the Seed Harvest Out of My Dog’s Mouth)

  1. Does the california poppy (eschscholzia) differ much from papaver poppy family? I’m not sure which kind of poppy seeds we use for baking bread in Turkey but it’s a common use of these delicious seeds.

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