Family Papaveraceae A L de Jussieu 1789 nom conserv the Poppy Family
Physical description: The family Papaveraceae consists of 25 genera and 200 species of laticiferous herbs or shrubs, occurring mainly in the temperate and tropical parts of the North Hemisphere. The leaves are simple, alternate, spiral and without stipules. The blade is often dissected. The flowers are showy, large, perfect, regular, and hypogynous.The calyx comprises of 2-4 caducous sepals and the corolla consists of 4-16 petals which are very thin, crumpled, brightly coloured, and imbricate. The andrecium is made of numerous stamens originating in a centripetal sequence. The anthers are tetrasporangiate and dithecal. The gynecium consists of 2-many carpels which are united to form a superior, unilocular ovary which encloses several ovules attached to parietal placentas. The stigma is flat, lobed and discoid. The fruits are capsular, containing numerous tiny seeds.
Pharmaceutical interest: A classical example of Papaveraceae is Papaver rhoea L. (corn poppy, red poppy) which grows wild in Europe and the petals of which (Red-Poppy, British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1949) have been used in the form of syrup to color and sweeten pharmaceutical mixtures. Of great interest in this family are the neuroactive isoquinoline alkaloids such as morphine, codeine and papaverine present in opium, i.e. the latex of Papaver somniferum L. (Fig. 42). Opium (from the Greek opos = juice) was known of the Babylonians (4000 BC), and it was used to pacify children in ancient Egypt before 2000 BC. The Greeks and Romans used it to induce sleeping. Arabian traders introduced opium to China, and it first appeared in Chinese medical text in about AD 1000, as a treatment for diarrhea. At the end of the Middle Age, the Swiss physician Paracelsus had such a high opinion of opium that he named preparations containing it laudanum (from Latin laudare = to praise). Another example of Papaveraceae is Sanguinaria canadensis the dried rhizome of which (Sanguinaria, British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1934): has been used as an expectorant in chronic bronchitis, usually as a tincture (1 in 10; dose 1 mL). Argemone mexicana L., Chelidonium majus L., Papaver somniferum L., Macleaya cordata (Willd.) R. Br., and Pteridophyllum racemosum Sieb. & Zucc. are used in the Asia-Pacific to treat various sorts of ailments.
Fig. 42. Examples of neuroactive isoquinoline alkaloids from Papaver somniferum L.
Continue reading here: Argemone mexicana L
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