Why has the red poppy become such a potent symbol of our remembrance of war?
Papaver rhoeas whose common names include; corn poppy, field poppy, Flanders poppy and red poppy, is an herbaceous species of annual flowering plant in the poppy family, Papaveraceae.
This poppy, a native of Western Europe, is notable as an agricultural weed growing naturally in conditions of disturbed earth flowering in May and in warm conditions up until August.
In 1914 the fields of Northern France and Flanders were ripped open as World War I raged through the heart of Europe.
The shell torn battlefields provided the perfect growing conditions for the poppy to flourish.
The Canadian surgeon Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae realised the significance of the poppy as a lasting memorial to his fallen comrades in his now famous poem ‘In Flanders Field’ written beside the grave of his close friend Alexis Helmer on May 3rd 1915.
The Royal British Legion adopted the poppy as a symbol representing the immeasurable sacrifices made during World War I, becoming a lasting memorial to all those who died in this and later conflicts.