Main content

Poppies are associated with many things but to most people they are a symbol of remembrance or associated with the opium trade.

Poppies are associated with many things but to most people they are a symbol of remembrance or associated with the opium trade. Natural Histories examines our fascination with the flower. Lia Leendertz visits the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew where James Wearn shows her a collection of poppy paraphernalia from around the world. Andrew Lack, of Oxford Brookes University and author of Poppy, explains how the flower made its way to the British Isles with the introduction of agriculture, and Joe Crawford of Exeter University describes the popularity of the opium poppy in 19th century Britain, especially among female poets. A vibrant opium trade led British horticulturalists to try and establish a home grown opium crop - without success.
Fiona Stafford appraises the poppy in art encouraging us to look again at Monet's late 19th century painting of a poppy field in northern France. It was painted just a few decades before the outbreak of the Great War which established the red poppy as a permanent reminder of the bloodshed of fallen soldiers.

Producer: Maggie Ayre

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Last Friday 11:00

Broadcast

Quiz: Extinct or Not?

Quiz: Extinct or Not?

Which of these species have vanished?

Natural History Heroes

Natural History Heroes

Scientists celebrate the pioneers who inspired their work and lives.

Natural Histories Comedy

Natural Histories Comedy

Humorous perspectives on life from the plants and animals in the series.

10 things we got wrong about dinosaurs

10 things we got wrong about dinosaurs

Dinosaur myths, misconceptions and mysteries.