Poppies are cup-shaped flowers with silky tissue-like petals that have a crinkled appearance.

They grow from thin, spindly stems atop a clump of fernlike foliage. The Oriental variety is larger and taller, and usually has deep blue-black blotches at the base of the center. Icelandic poppies are smaller and have golden centers.

Poppies are great to use in combinations for their colors, fragrance and texture. Closed poppy buds lend a whimsical touch.

NAMES: Poppy, Papaver.

VARIETIES: Oriental poppy, Icelandic poppy. Most are single-flowering varieties, but some are available in semidouble forms.

COLORS: The Icelandic variety is available in shades of white, yellow, pink and orange. The Oriental variety is most popular in oranges and reds, but is also available in white and pink.

SCENT: Fresh, mild scent.

FRESHNESS: Purchase or cut in bud stage, but the bud must show some color of the blossom.

VASE LIFE: Approximately 3 to 5 days. Poppies must be seared on the ends and placed in warm water to be used as a cut flower.

AVAILABILITY: Early summer for the Oriental variety, all summer for the Icelandic type.

COST: Moderately priced.

MEANING: Consolation.

NOTE: Poppies have fuzzy stems that quickly decompose in water, resulting in extra bacterial growth. Change the water frequently to prolong vase life.