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Abundant Future: Cultivating Diversity in Garden, Farm, and Field


Traseny mak Poppyheads

Papaver somniferum

When I was thinking about which heirloom plant to choose, I wanted it to be something that is typical of our country and also what is close to me personally. Bohemia is the world’s largest producer of poppy seed and poppy cultivation has a very long tradition here. At the same time, the plant I painted the most often in recent years was the poppy. I love to observe and paint it in all different stages of its growth. No doubt, the poppy was the right choice for me.

I contacted Gengel, o.p.s., a non-profit organization, which strives for the preservation of old, regional varieties and heirloom plants which are part of our cultural heritage. They provided me with small poppyheads of ‘traseny mak,’ that I immediately fell in love with. The name ‘traseny mak’ means something like “shaken poppy.” It got its name from the fact that the poppy seeds fall out of the holes in the crown when the ripening time comes, so one must be careful not to miss it and handle them carefully when collecting. This regional or local variety comes from western Slovakia.

The woman who donated this variety to the Gengel, o.p.s., collection said about it: “…a new neighbor gave it to my son when he moved to Lubina’s fields. It is a variety that has been planted for many years. It was grown by her parents and is said to be the most suitable for the harsh local conditions. When the seeds ripen you don’t need a knife, but as the poppyheads shake, the seeds fall through the holes. Therefore, one must take care when it matures and shake them directly into the bowl. It is not tall, nor does it have big poppyheads, but it is resistant to pests and birds It is said to have a tradition under Velká Javořina mountain.”

In 2016 “traseny mak’ was planted by Gengel, who described it as a plant about 120 – 140 cm tall with rich branching – on one plant there were 7 – 10 small poppyheads, with flowers which were light with a darker middle part. Rarely, darker, slightly more purple-colored flowers have also occurred. It was not attacked by any pests or diseases. The seeds were dark in color.

In the painting I wanted to show as much as possible of the plant material that I got. I was provided with few poppyheads with short stems and some seeds. Carefully I cut some poppyheads in half and made a composition using whole and cut poppyheads together with the seeds. As a medium I used watercolor and through the painting process I combined wet in wet technique with dry brushing.


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Abundant Future-kourkova traseny-mak-tm8iu

Papaver somniferum

Traseny mak Poppyheads

Watercolor on paper

11 x 16 inches

©2019 Pavlina Kourkova

2024 ASBA - All rights reserved

All artwork copyrighted by the artist. Copying, saving, reposting, or republishing of artwork prohibited without express permission of the artist.

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