Heroin is an opiate drug derived from morphine, which is itself obtained from the opium poppy plant (Papaver somniferum). Techniques vary, but most growers use either the seedpods or the straw chaff of the flowering plant to extract a light-brown powder containing concentrated morphine.
Opium poppies and their derivatives — including the painkillers codeine and laudanum, the cough-suppressant noscapine, as well as morphine — have been renowned throughout human history.
Neolithic burial sites in Spain show evidence of poppy use. The first recorded reference to opium comes from 3400 B.C., when the opium poppy was grown in Mesopotamia, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The ancient Sumerians referred to the poppy as hul gil (the “joy plant”), and ancient Egyptian, Greek, Minoan and Sanskrit texts document the use of poppy-derived medicines.