What's so different about the Scottish poppy?

Image caption The Scottish poppy on the left has four petals the rest of the UK poppy has two red petals

All poppies look the same, don't they? Well, no - the Scottish poppy is different. So what marks it out and why?

What makes a Scottish poppy?

Image copyright PA

Well, it has the same recognisable blood red colour, but it has four-lobed petals and no leaf, in contrast to the poppy used in the rest of the UK which has two and sometimes sports a green leaf.

Why is it different?

Image copyright AP
Image caption Sanjeev Kohli with Poppyscotland fundraiser Inger Stevenson launching this year's Scottish Poppy Appeal

Poppyscotland, which raises money to support armed forces north of the border, says it would be "botanically incorrect" to add a leaf.

Incidentally, it would cost about £15,000 and the charity believes that sum of money is better spent on veterans.

Poppies sold in Scotland are made at Lady Haig's poppy factory in Edinburgh by some 40 veterans - the majority with disabilities.

When did the Scottish poppy come into being?

Image copyright Mark Owens
Image caption More than 25,000 collection tins are distributed in Scotland each year

The poppy as a symbol of remembrance was started by the American humanitarian Moina Michael, who was inspired by Lt Colonel John McCrae's poem In Flanders Fields describing small red plants growing on the graves of soldiers buried in northern France and Belgium during World War One.

She began the poppy wearing and others soon followed.

However, after the first Poppy Appeal in 1921, demand for the simple symbol could not be fulfilled north of the border.

So, Lady Haig, wife of Field Marshal Earl Haig, decided to open a poppy-making factory in Edinburgh which would be staffed by a team of disabled war veterans.

How many Scottish poppies are made each year?

Image copyright Mark Owens
Image caption Bombardier Murray Kerr stands alongside the Heavy Horse sculpture at Baillieston holding the four-petal Scottish poppy

It's all-year round work for Poppyscotland, the result being....

  • four million green stem poppies
  • one million stick-on poppies
  • 10,000 wreaths
  • maintenance and distribution of 25,000 collection tins.

As for the rest of the UK, the Royal British Legion produces....

  • 35 million poppies annually
  • 9.5 million are assembled by home workers
  • and 500,000 are assembled at the Legion's poppy factory in Richmond.

Is the Poppy Appeal just about poppies?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In Scotland about 10,000 poppy wreaths are ordered each year

No, fundraisers produce all kinds of poppy-related merchandise, from wreaths, rings, brooches, umbrellas, diaries and T-shirts.

The idea to branch out came in the very early days. In 1928 that Lady Haig decided the Edinburgh factory should expand into hand-crafted goods, including stuffed toys and jigsaw puzzles.

Does the Scottish poppy appeal have anything to do with the UK fundraising effort?

Image caption The poppy sold outside Scotland has two petals and often sports a green leaf

In June 2011 Poppyscotland merged with its sister charity, The Royal British Legion (TRBL), which operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

However, it remains a distinct organisation and the £2m raised in Scotland is spent in Scotland.

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