Plant of the day: California poppy

If you learn only one plant as a Californian, it should probably be this one. Our state flower is simply stunning. Rich orange flowers bloom lushly atop feathery foliage. The cup-shaped blossoms were originally pollinated by beetles, but they have also become a favorite of the introduced European honeybee.

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California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is one of the most beautiful flowers of the spring, and it blooms well into the summer with good showings still going on. In this area they usually grow in scattered patches, but in places you will see them blanketing hillsides or valleys in a carpet of orange (eg Santa Barbara’s Figueroa Mountain). In harsh places the flowers can be on the small side, but in good conditions each of the four petals can be over two inches long. This poppy is native to the west coast of North America, but because it is a beautiful and hardy garden flower it has been introduced to many other parts of the country and the world.

Native Americans are said to have used the pollen as a cosmetic. They also ate the leaves, and used the plant as a mild pain-killer to treat insomnia and toothache. Extract of poppy is still sold today, and was touted as an alternative to Oxycodone by television personality Dr. Oz.

 

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Filed under Good for gardens, Medicinal, Native, Plant of the day

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