Do They Have A Bagle Prison?

One Of These Is A Criminal Act

One Of These Is A Criminal Act

Original Image

It’s a long story, but I’ll give you the very short form…

I’ve got a couple of large pots with an unknown plant growing all over them.

I’d tried growing some “poppy seeds” last year some time and nothing happened, so I figured they were just “sterilized” as they were sold for food use. It’s just something I do from time to time; trial different food seeds to see which are alive and which are dead. (The small Middle Eastern Fava beans have finally sprouted, and the Greek Giant Beans are doing nicely).

So this year I’ve got this plant I can’t identify. Took it to the Nursery. They said, Donno… maybe a weed…

And then I remembered those long ago and long gone poppy seeds. Might they have simply been awaiting a new spring? And what pot did I sprinkle them on, anyway? (I’m most inclined to think the things random weeds… but still don’t know.) So I went off to research just what does a Poppy Seed Bagle type of Poppy Seed Plant look like?

And found that some have foliage not at all like what I’ve got while some are “sort of like it” but not clearly the same.

Along the way I’ve learned a great deal about how Poppy Seeds are made from the same poppy as Opium. That the western commercial poppy seed farms are licensed, and make “legitimate” opium and morphine (and an oxycodone precursor and…) from the “Poppy Straw” left after food seed production. All of which left me wondering, if there are thousands of tons of this stuff being grown all over Australia, USA, India, etc. and we’re out trying to destroy it in Afghanistan, just who is making money off what here?… but that has to wait…

No, I ran into something far more curious.

Along with all their OTHER strange rites and rituals, per the Wiki, some Islamic countries have a BIG problem with the notion of a Poppy Seed Bagle. Now I know they hate the Jews. And I know they are not really very tidy in how they think about things like this some times. But this entry from the wiki just stopped me in my tracks:

The sale of poppy seeds from Papaver somniferum is banned in Singapore because of the morphine content. Poppy seeds are also banned in Saudi Arabia for various religious and drug control reasons. In United Arab Emirates, a few poppy seeds found on a traveller’s clothes will very likely lead to imprisonment.

So I’m left to ponder just WHO makes sure that nobody headed to UAE gets a poppy seed bagle in the airport deli as they wait for a connecting flight? Do the airlines have “bagle free planes” dedicated to that route? Does the UAE have a “Bagle Prison” for folks who just were too addicted to them to forgo one last “Cream Cheese and Lox on Poppy Seed Bagle”? What happens if you “accidentally” spill a bottle of poppy seeds into the luggage equipment at the UAE counter? Who all would get “nailed”? Could one make a “poppy bomb” via a “party popper” laced with poppy seeds and shower the UAE delegation with “Sin” at the next “Party For The Imam”?

The possibilities here are just endless…

And imagine what they would do with a poppy seed muffin or cake…

Could one load up “special” paint ball gun ammo with poppy seeds and “spike” the flower beds of diplomats and executive visitors from afar? Perhaps just make a small RC airplane with “bomb bay doors” to drop a “crop dusting” of the forbidden Poppy Seeds over various “interesting” locations and people? 10,000 seeds would easily fit in a Cox 0.49 powered tiny little guy with lots of room to spare…

And just what happens at the Saudi Embassy if a Noah’s Bagle guy shows up with a gratuitous order of Bagles?…

“Eat a Bagle, go to Prision! It’s the LAW!”

“Bagles? Just say NO!”

And, one wonders, is there an analog of “Reefer Madness”? If not, ought not we make one? “Bagle Madness”?

There are times I wonder about the sanity of the average occupant of this planet. The rest of the time I’m quite sure… unfortunately….

Oh, and I think I’m going to need to get in the habit of ordering a Poppy Seed Bagle with my Coffee… just because… It’s a symbolic thing… even if it does feel like the bagle has sand paper glued to it ;-)

The Mystery Plant

For anyone wondering, this is an image of the “mystery plant”. The foliage is not at all like the other poppies with which I am familiar. However it does look somewhat like some of the “Bagle Poppy Seed” plants I’ve found, especially for the older (lower) leaves. (This is a giant sized picture if you want a closer inspection).

I have had other times where a seed of something or other has been reluctant for a year or two, then suddenly found things “Just Right”. So who knows…

Then again, it could just as easily be some weed that blew on as the pot sat out all last fall and winter…

Mystery Plant DSCF0846

Mystery Plant DSCF0846

Any ideas what it might be are welcome… BTW, that particularly large leaf in the upper right that isn’t at all like all the other lanceolate ones is from a kind of South American squash that I’d planted in the pot this year as a ‘reuse’… not knowing what was to come. A Chayote… So I’m trying to make a “repot whom” vs “erradicate what” decision. Just not trying very hard ;-) This IS “Darwin’s Garden (c)” after all ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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28 Responses to Do They Have A Bagle Prison?

  1. kuhnkat says:

    Better pull that picture before the DEA shows up!!!

    (just kidding. I haven’t a clue when it comes to plants.)

  2. Level_Head says:

    It’s probably a good thing that the Ali Baba’s overheard command “iftaH ya simsim” was translated as “open sesame” as opposed to “open poppy.”

    Otherwise he’d have been killed for using it, as his brother Cassim was. They have no sense of humor about such things.

    You intend to plant the seeds of Islam’s destruction. It is not likely to make you poppylar.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  3. P.G. Sharrow says:

    E.M.; that does not appear to me to be a poppy volunteer to me. The poppies that I am familiar with are a gray -green and more open in habit. By now they will be developing bloom buds as they are very early and short seasoned. The plant you show has hairs or nettles on the stem. Poppy stems are very smooth. This looks like some kind of milk thistle. pg

  4. P.G. Sharrow says:

    By the by, I can take and send you a picture. pg

  5. gallopingcamel says:

    You are weird sir!

  6. Sera says:


    Don’t bother with a search for ‘California Weeds’- it’s all marijuana.

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m very familiar with several kinds of California Poppy, what surprised me on the web search was that the Asian poppies had very different foliage.

    The Milk Thistle has a milky sap and this does not look milky… Then again, I think Poppy are supposed to be milky too, then again, it’s a very young (and fast growing!) plant (whatever it is) so may not have had time to develop “milkyness” yet..


    Interesting connection ;-)


    Sometimes web searches inform about interesting cultural fixations…


    Why, thank you sir! It’s nice to be appreciated!

    (I must admit that I do have a “Puckish” sense of things… and when someone has a truely bizzare set of irrational, and especially mean-irrational, behaviours, I just kind of can’t help but think of ways to point that out to them via otherwise innocuous and / or novel behaviours. Like making a plant “evil”… well, then maybe one could just help the plant ‘do what plants do’… )

  8. John F. Hultquist says:

    Search with “california native plant society” or CNPS
    There will be a listing for local chapters; I used Bing and it was the second result. Following results will actually show local chapters, such as, San Diego, then East Bay, and so on. Find a couple near you and ask for an identification. Locally, here in WA State, chapters meet once a month and you could go if the distance to the meeting site isn’t too great.

    I often buy evil pound cakes just loaded with poppy seeds.

  9. Jerry Franke says:

    Regarding your reply to gallopingcamel: Personification of non-human things is an artform that has been used since the beginning of civilization – first in primitive religions.
    Is there any gardener or farmer out there who hasn’t talked encouragingly to their favorite plants or cursed the invading weed? My favorite “evil” plant is a new species that I have named ‘dandelionus darwinius’ which I discovered in my lawn in the south Bay Area in CA. It has rapidly evolved in urban lawns such that its flower never grows tall enough to be decapitated by lawn mowers. Lawns that are maintained with mowers, rather than animals, are a fairly recent landscaping feature so they adapted with this defense in less than 100 generations.
    We moved out to Colorado 20 years ago and found that the dandelions here are more like their native brethren in shooting their flowers up several inches. However, lately I have been seeing an increasing number that are exhibiting the short stem trait.
    Many of us have heard the saying, “You are born, life is tough and then you die”. Dandelions likely have a saying, “You are born, keep your head down and be blessed with many children with short necks!”

  10. Ralph B says:

    Leaves look the same to me…

  11. Verity Jones says:

    P.G. Sharrow is right about the opiate poppy haing hairless stems. Your mystery plant might be Horseweed or Canadian Fleabane. That is a common weed. Most photos of it are of plants growing on poor soil and perhaps with reduced water, whereas your’s have been well cared for ;-)

    From here is a particularly lush example of the vegetative stage:

    Interestingly it has medicinal properties:
    In case this is a correct identification, take care with it as some people have skin reactions to the sap.

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jerry Franke:

    The Dandelion is an interesting example.

    While there is a native California dandelion, the one folks see (and often curse) is an import. It was brought here as a “good plant” that has medicinal properties as well as making Dandelion Wine and adding some nice flavor to salads.

    For a while, I had a large patch thriving in my “middle yard” (that is fenced off from the very Front Yard but has a side appoach from the “back yard”). They were slowly taking over and NOTHING I could do would thin them back. So I ate them. Not a lot. Just enough to feel like maybe it was a ‘feature’ of some sort.

    Then I went to “free range bunnies” in the back. Then I took down the barrier between back and middle (left the gate open).

    Now, from time to time, I’ll see a bunny in the evening or in the morning doing a survey of that patch of lawn. Looking for any lone suvivor dandelion… Bunnies just LOVE dandelion greens…

    I’ve not seen any dandelions for the last 2 years. I’m sure some sprout. But long before they are big enough for me to see they are “snack”…

    Bunnies will neatly mow a lawn, but for the non-grass “browse” that they love most, it will be consumed flush with the dirt (and if the roots are good, they will be extracted as well…).

    Now if I could just get them to like Bermuda Grass ;-)

    (BTW, now that you mention it, the dandelions in the heavily mowed areas had started having shorter flower stalks… Also, if you look into dandelion genetics, it’s rather fascinating. There are a huge number of semi-species. They cross with each other to various degrees, and some of them are parthenogenic. Not quite “clones” but never having significant genetic variation. Many of these varieties are specifically named. I counted at least 4 in my ‘patch’ at one time. They vary in overall size, flower height, leaf size and ‘toothiness’, etc. You can even get imported seeds from Italy, or at least, I got some once, for selected cultivars of particularly good flavor…)

    At any rate, what I could not accomplish in 20 years of trying, the bunnies had done in less than 3 years (and substantially complete the first year…)

    Just don’t let them near the Marigolds or Mums… They use the foliage as natural flea control. They don’t mow it down unless they need a lot of it, but they will consistently “munch” enough to keep their pyrethrins up and do in any parasites….

    Sidebar: I’ve also read where Marigolds and / or Chrysanthemums can kill off nematodes in the soil and that the pyrethrins can be persistent for a couple of years. So those of you with nematode problems might consider the viurtue of a rotating Marigold cover crop:

    @Ralph B. & Verity:

    Thanks! At least now I can look up the “key” for each and start doing a “differential key” on them…

    There seem to be a lot of things with “lanceolate foliage” of various levels of glabrous / hairy leaves and stem.

    Or maybe I’ll just “pot on” the chayote and let these guys run to completion and get more info, like flower type ;-)

    Ah, the joys of not just nuking everything with Roundup…

    I really do like the “adventure” aspect of it. The “discovery” of what something is and what can be done with it. I’ve got a small pot of “Lambsquarters” going; usually thought of as a weed, but also edible if you are not too picky. Oddly, the bunnies don’t seem to like it. Probably the oxalate level being a bit high.

    Though these folks say it is high in nitrates:

    so I’d not make it a ‘staple’; but it IS edible in modest quantities…

    I like it as it is something I can grow where the bunnies have free run, yet will not be immediately erradicated ;-) while having pretty greens to it.

    Unfortunately for our “mystery plant”, the bunnies DO think it tasty… I’ve tried it. OK, but bland… Also a bit rough texture. The bunnies like a bit of “fuzzy / rough” like on radish leaves. I’ve not accuired the taste for that texture myself… but they think it a grand thing… Oddly, they are not as keen on lettuce. Yes, if that’s ALL there is they will have a bit. But they really like radish leaves a lot more… They also find Strawberry leaves just dandy. They will eat the tops of the strawberry (that we have cut off as we eat the rest) but ALWAYS start with the crown of leaves. Seeming to treat the little disk of fruit as a rather too sweet and too ‘smooth mushy’ bit that they can’t really get rid of, but would rather have more leaves….

    I wonder if anyone would be interested in a “Guide to Bunny Gardening” showing how to integrate them into the landscaping ;-)

  13. John Silver says:


  14. anna v says:

    Hi Chief.

    There is a great variety of poppies. From what I know, the ones grown for Opium are mauve instead of red, with thicker leaves, stems and seed pods. It is the seed pod that is milked for the opium. Cuts are made with a knife while still on the plant and the milk that comes out dries and is gathered for opium.

    How do I know all this? My family’s roots are from deep in Anatolia, Cappadocia in fact whence they came as refugees in 1922,, and there the opium poppies grow wild. They used to make a brew for colicky babies!

    An interesting story: My great grandmother had some beautiful poppies growing in the suburban garden, not knowing they were forbidden by law! Those days policemen on foot patrolled the city, and she had to uproot all of them :(.

    This year, next to the red wild poppies, a crop of mauve ones came out, in my vacation cottage but only different in colour, not texture/type. If I were a botanist I would be interested to see whether the mauve gene is connected to the opium gene :).

  15. Dennis says:

    Burdocks or Artichokes

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    @Anna V:

    Interesting story…

    FWIW, as near as I can tell from web searching, there are now red, white, and a couple of other “opium” poppies. It also looks like several other types have some of the active alkaloids, but not the same mix or strength.


    More to put in my “key” search…

    @John Silver:

    I’ve not seen them moving around at night. Much… so I don’t think they are Space Triffids ;-)

  17. gallopingcamel says:

    You strike me as someone who would enjoy the finer things in life such as a rare single malt scotch and it would be a great privilege to meet you some day to share a beverage or two.

    While unable to match your wit and erudition I am taking my first faltering steps into the blogosphere and would value your comments on this:

  18. P.G. Sharrow says:

    @E.M.Smith; If your plant does not have milky sap it definitly is not opium poppy, as they are milky at all stages. While the poppy plants have large flowers of red and mauve that range from dark to almost white, I have not noticed any connection of color to size. Just some plants are just stronger then others.

    I think your plant is a weed that you do not want to make seed as they will be very hard to get rid of.

    “Poppy seed” sold for food is rendered very dead first. pg

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    As the bunnies like to eat this stuff, it would not be hard to “control’ at all ;-)

    Heck, the’ve taken down dandelions of 20 years standing and Jerusalem Artichokes (that are strongly advised as “only plant these if you want them forever as you can’t get rid of them”…)

    So if any start to ‘take over’ it’s just a matter of letting the bunnies have access…

    I guess the milky sap thing is kind of definative. My money is on the “Canada Fleabane” as it has (per the picture Verity put up) the ‘two stage’ leave shape. Wavy when new, flattening out more with age. This picture looks more “open” and the leaves are more spreadout, but I think that is because it’s not jammed with 1000 others into one pot:


    I do like a slow sipping from time to time.

    The site you have looks like a good one (after a quick glance). I’ll look more closely a bit later in the week.

    I’m presently planning on a June Last Shuttle Launch in Florida… we’ll see as time unfolds…

  20. gallopingcamel says:

    I watched the shuttle launch from my patio this morning. Very disappointing as it vanished into low cloud and one could only catch brief glimpses of it.

    You have my email address so please let me know if you will have time to meet for dinner (on me) if you visit the Space Coast. The Atlantis launch date appears to have been postponed to “Early July”.

  21. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m going to see the one in “july” come hell or high water…

  22. E.M.Smith says:

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    Per the “dead seed” statement. I suspect that may vary by country. I found this site:

    that offers for sale the “Pepperbox Poppy” that is listed as a somniferum. They emphatically say no sales to Australia or New Zealand (but seem happy with the USA…)

    And they list a total of 26 total varieties:

    Oddly, a trip to the local hardware store found the same poppy seeds on the flower seed rack… so it looks they can be sold in California (though that does not mean they can be legally grown here… that’s a different question…)

    At any rate, I don’t see any mandate to not sell live seeds in California / USA (doesn’t mean there isn’t one, just I’m seeing evidence to the contrary and little evidence the other way…)

    At any rate, I think it is a bit of a moot point, as the clear sap of my “mystery plant” says “not a poppy” and the food grade seeds I have planted have all ‘done nothing’. So I doubt if planting a food poppy seed is going to do much…

    This “Hungarian Blue” one looks really pretty…

    So it does look like one can get the “raw materials” for the “Party Poppier” and the “Model Poppy Crop Duster” “toys”

    Watch out, Islamic Extremists, I’ve got a poppy seed and I know how to use it! ;-)

  23. P.G. Sharrow says:

    I checked out the linked onestoppoppyshop offerings.
    I am not sure what “breadseed” stands for. They may be breeds with very low levels of opiates.

    “poppy” leaves make good addition to salads and can be used for pot herbs. pg

  24. E.M.Smith says:

    “Breadseed” means that it’s “Poppy seeds used on bagles and in breads”. That is, the usual poppy seed of muffin and bagle fame, that comes from the papaver somniferum (as in the link…) variety. The “somniferum” means “makes you sleepy” i.e. it IS the opium poppy…

    One of those “inconvenient facts” that folks “against drugs” like to forget is that the same plant that is “evil” in the opium trade is “essential” to make the pain killers the doctor prescribes AND produces the poppy seeds sold in the grocery store…

    Same plant.

    As they say at the very top here:

    Breadseed Poppy
    Papaver somniferum
    a.k.a. Opium Poppy

    Though they do point out that the different strains have different strengths:

    Description: Plants usually grow to 2-3ft. Some strains have high alkaloid content and can be processed into various drugs, many other strains, including most ornamental horticulture strains contain only trace amounts of alkaloids. This species also yields the poppy seed that is used in baking.

    Though I think it is overdoing the ‘trace’ emphasis….

    The wiki:


    Poppy seeds of Papaver somniferum are an important food item and the source of poppyseed oil, a healthy edible oil that has many uses. It is widely grown as an ornamental flower throughout Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.
    A few of the varieties, notably the Norman and Przemko varieties, have low morphine content (less than one percent), much higher concentrations of other alkaloids. Most varieties, however, including those most popular for ornamental use or seed production, have a higher morphine content, with the average content being 10%

    Which is closer to the truth, IMHO. While I’m not sure what the Norman and Przemko varieties are, the interesting point there is that they contain OTHER alkaloids (of who knows what activities). Add in that the most popular seed types are, well, “normal” and I think you can see a bit of a ‘butt cover’ in the prior comment about “trace”…

    It then goes on to “clarify” the legality of growing them in the USA:

    Opium poppy cultivation in the United Kingdom does not require a licence, but extracting opium for medicinal products does.[4]
    In Italy it is forbidden to grow Papaver somniferum to extract the alkaloids, but small numbers of specimens can be grown without special permits for purely ornamental purposes. In the United States, opium is listed as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration. In addition, “Opium poppy and poppy straw” are also prohibited. However, this is not typically enforced for poppies grown or sold for ornamental or food purposes.

    The seeds themselves contain very small amounts of opiates. However, the television show MythBusters demonstrated that one could test positive for narcotics after consuming four poppy seed bagels. On the show Brainiac: Science Abuse, subjects tested positive after eating only two poppy seed bagels.

    So it looks like you can buy, own, eat, possess and generally do whatever you want with the seeds. IF you plant them, and do NOTHING untoward with them, folks are likely to be left alone. Maybe. Unless you pissed off somebody… but if you do anything “medicinal” with them, it’s off to the pokey…

    Hope that helps clear things up ;-)

    Update 12 Mar 2013

    It does look like the ‘mystery plant’ is Canadian Fleabane:

  25. P.G. Sharrow says:

    So if I eat the plants or seed, it is ok, but if the plants die and become straw they are forbidden. ????? One good plant will yield a half cup of seed.
    OH well, they grow wild in the grape rows and lend accent color to that field in the spring. 8-) pg

  26. Pascvaks says:

    People make “Things” illegal because of what “People” do with those things. Stupid really. Better to make the “Doing” illegal. Or the “People” who do the doing, that would be quicker still. Poor “Things”. Bad “People”.

    PS: Never met a “Weed” I didn’t like; and once I learned its name, it wasn’t a weed anymore.

  27. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Weeds are Plants that are in places you don’t want them. pg

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