It is a native of Europe, North Africa, and the temperate zones of Asia. Its latex contains substances very similar to the opium poppy, but they are much milder in strength. It is called the “corn poppy” because of its frequent appearance as a wild flower in grain fields in England and elsewhere in Europe.
It is the poppy referred to in “In Flanders Fields,” a poem written by John McCrae (1872–1918), a Canadian physician, who served on the Western Front in 1914. World War I veterans and subsequent war veterans annually memorialize the war dead with imitations of this poppy worn as boutonnières on Memorial Day in the United States and Armistice Day on November 11 in Canada and the United Kingdom. The poppy boutonnière has become the symbol of the ultimate supreme human sacrifice for one’s country.