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The California Poppy Blooms Now – A Fabulous Native Plant

How we welcome the flowers of spring after that hard winter we suffered.

The California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, is a species of flowering plant in the family Papaveraceae, native to the United States and Mexico, and the official state flower of California.

It’s now blooming in California.

On December 12, 1890, the California State Floral Society voted to select a State Flower. The three nominees were Eschscholzia californica, the California poppy, Romneya coulteri, called giant poppy at the time, but now usually referred to as Matilija poppy, and Calochortus (no species indicated), the mariposa lily. The California poppy won by a landslide.

Last week these poppies  in this Califronai garden.
Last week these poppies appeared quite at home in this California garden.

Rochester, NY seedsman James Vick (1818-1882) included the California poppy in his seed catalog of 1873.  The packet of seeds cost only 5 cents.  Vick wrote, “A very showy class of hardy annuals, of different shades of yellow and creamy white.”

He listed the California poppy under ‘Annuals’.  He wrote: “For our best and gayest flowers we are dependent mainly upon his Department, and to it we are especially indebted for a brilliant and constant show late in the season.”

That’s evidence that nineteenth century American seed merchants did sell native plants.

Here is a picture [above] from the yard of my sister-in-law’s house in California.

The California poppy shines as a native plant that still, after all these decades, brings out that feeling of freshness and new beginnings when you see its orange/yellow flower in the spring garden.

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