Wild Opium Poppies on Awaji Island Concern Narcotics Authorities

Courtesy of the Sumoto Health & Welfare Office
Poppy of Troy plants

SUMOTO, Hyogo — The number of wild opium poppies found on Awaji Island, Hyogo Prefecture, last year tripled from the previous year to about 10,000 plants.

The prefectural Sumoto Health & Welfare Office said it removed all the plants and disposed of them. Wild opium poppies can be used for producing narcotics.

The poppies are easy to find from spring to early summer when the plants produce blossoms. The office is strengthening patrols and trying to prevent the areas where they grow from spreading further.

The species of wild opium poppies found on the island is poppy of Troy which is characterized by leaves that wrap around the stem. The flower has four petals which are light purple or red. One plant can grow to between 50 centimeters and 1 meter tall.

Because narcotic substances can be extracted from it, the Opium Control Law prohibits its cultivation and possession.

The office found 10,331 wild opium poppy plants in April and May last year through its patrols and reports from local residents. This included a large area of natural growth where 3,000 plants were growing. It was a significant increase from the 3,746 found in 2021.

Officials said that as many plants as possible need to be removed before the start of summer, because seeds scatter after the petals fall off.

According to the Hyogo prefectural government, about 59,000 wild opium poppy plants were found in the whole prefecture last year.

In May and June every year, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the Hyogo prefectural government conduct activities to eliminate illegally produced marijuana and opium poppies.

Because the climate of Awaji Island is warm, opium poppies grow faster than in other places.

An official in charge of the issue said: “Natural growth areas of opium poppies have been spreading to the whole of Awaji Island. If people spot them, we hope they will inform us.”

Reports and requests for advice via telephone are accepted by the prefectural Sumoto Health & Welfare Office’s food and drug sanitation section at (0799) 26-2067.