Police commend 3-year-old plant enthusiast for finding banned opium poppy

A 3-year-old boy who loves plants has been honored by police for finding a banned opium poppy in his neighborhood.

Kawamura Yuki discovered a plant with blooming purple flowers in an open area near his home in Tokushima Prefecture while walking with his mother, Haruka, in mid-April.

"I had never seen those flowers before, so I asked my mother to look them up," he says.

She checked her smartphone to find out the plant is an opium poppy called atsumigeshi, which is an ingredient in opium. After finding the flowers at several more locations, Yuki told his mother to report them to the police.

Honored by the police

Yuki was honored at a local police station on Thursday. The police chief asked him to keep his mind and morals strong and help maintain peace in the community.

"I thought people shouldn't touch the plant," he said.

Kawamura Yuki, 3, wearing a police uniform at a ceremony on Thursday.

Plant lover

Yuki started taking an interest in plants at an even younger age. He observes flowers blooming in the garden of his grandparents' house and at a park almost every day. He consults botanical books whenever he comes across a plant he has never seen before.

"His interest has led to the commendation. I want him to continue to explore what he likes," Haruka says.

What is atsumigeshi ?

Cultivation and possession of the atsumigeshi poppy are banned in Japan.

The atsumigeshi poppy can grow 80 centimeters high during spring to early summer.

Ibaragi Yasushi, a curator at Tokushima Prefectural Museum, says it is hard to get rid of the plant as it has a strong reproductive system and diffuses large numbers of tiny seeds.

Tokushima Prefecture conducts an annual campaign to exterminate it. They say more than 10,450 stalks of banned opium poppies, including the atsumigeshi variety, were removed across the prefecture in the last fiscal year that ended in March.

The police are calling on people who find the plant to call the police or a local public health center.

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