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Ying Su of Tian Shan Mountains

Updated on February 12, 2012
Tian Shan Ying Su
Tian Shan Ying Su | Source

Ying Su is the Chinese term for opium poppy. People living on the east coast of Mediterranean Sea found opium poppy (scientific name: Papaver somniferum) in Neolithic Age. The ancient Sumerians considered it as "happy plant", the gift given by the God. The great poet, Homer, called it "forget-sadness herb", and Vergilius called it "hypnotic drug". Modern people know that opium poppy is the raw material for Opium and Heroin. It is like a demon with graceful appearance in people's mind, and therefore forbidden to grow worldwide. Opium poppy has a sister who is as beautiful as her, field poppy (scientific name: Papaver rhoeas). They are from the same plant family, but field poppy is not harmful. By comparison, field poppy has similar attractive flowers but smaller fruits, and hairy instead of smooth. In Chinese medicine, it functions to keep cough down, stop diarrhea, ease pain, and tranquilize excitement. In Compendium of Materia Medica, the greatest ancient book for Chinese medicine, it, both field and opium, grew in great numbers, bloomed in various colors, and flowers faded in only three days leaving fruits on the tops, which looked like Ying (the ancient form of wine jar in China). Therefore, it has the name Ying Su (Su is the term for corn).


There are over 100 kinds of field poppies in the world, and it is the national flower of Belgium. People can see a vast land of field poppies in bloom in summer in Yili grassland of Xinjiang province in north-west China. Three main kinds spread across the Yili valley: Peacock poppy (Papaver pavoninum), Orange poppy (probably California poppy), and Tian Shan poppy or Altay yellow poppy (Papaver canescens).

Yili Valley
Yili Valley | Source

Tian Shan poppy is found living in Russia, Mongolia and north-west and mid-Xinjiang. It inhabits alpine meadows, grasslands, stone mountain slopes between above the sea levels of 1,500 and 3,500 meters. Tian Shan poppy is a short perennial herb. The whole plant is hairy, has disk-shaped stigma, and no style. The amateur fruits content milk with morphine and cocaine in it. The whole plant, including flower, fruit, stem and leaf, can all be used in medicine. During June to August, those flowers in bright yellow create an amazing world across stony mountains.

Field poppy has a Chinese name, Yu Beauty, which is from a legend story with a real historic background. In the late of Qin Dynasty (about the year of 202 B.C.), the powerful Chu king was beaten by Han king, who had minor army compared with Chu, at Gai Xia, a small place in south China, and therefore lost almost all his country. His lover, Yu Ji, a very attractive woman, did not want him to worry about her, so she committed suicide with the great sword of him. The story goes that the blood of Yu Ji dripped down on the ground and became beautiful flowers, which were field poppies, and people gave them a very beautiful name, i.e. Yu Beauty.

Yili Grassland
Yili Grassland | Source


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    • Hui (蕙) profile image

      Hui (蕙) 6 years ago

      Yeah, it is a really beautiful place and beautiful flower. Thank you very much.

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 6 years ago from India

      This is interesting and pics are beautiful :)

    • Hui (蕙) profile image

      Hui (蕙) 6 years ago

      Thank you for stopping by.

      Undoubtedly, the USA plays a role of the bellwether in science, civilization and progress in present world. American thinking way encourages to develop human intelligence on the maximum level, which attracts people from all over the world, including me. But those traditional asset we heritted from ancestors is also precious. We can learn a lot from it. For example, Chinese medicine pays emphasis on the harmony between the nature and the human body with little human technology in it, i.e. both problem and solution are from the nature, which is reasonable and logical. If an American sees Chinese people put some mashed plant leaves on a wound, s/he may feel weird or even surprised, but it works probably better than penicillin. Really nice to meet you!

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 6 years ago from Space Coast

      This is well written, informative and very beautiful in form and function. We don't know much about poppies here, and you brought them to show us.

      Sometimes I feel we are making a mistake in the USA. We have substituted synthetic drugs for the natural poppy in treatment of acute pain. The synthetic drugs are more insidious for their side effects.