Four petals, numerous stamens, single pistil, superior ovary. Petals grade from orange to yellow.  Huntington Central Park, Huntington Beach, CA. (cultivated). 5-22-10. © Joan Avise.

California Poppy

Eschscholzia californica

The California state flower.  It is an annual fire-follower occurring widely on dry slopes in many plant communties. At maturity the long slender fruit splits with a pop from the apex down, flinging the seed some distance. The plant
is poisonous to livestock and most insects but the flower can be eaten by Blister beetles, Lytta sp.  Native Americans and Spanish Californians used the seeds and leaves as a food source, the petals as a hair dressing and yellow dye, the pollen as a cosmetic, and tea prepared from the chopped plant as a remedy for headache, toothache, and insomnia. Native plant populations in Orange County produce seed that remains dormant until exposed to winter/spring conditions, fire or other unknown factors.  Central California populations and commercial plantings produce non-dormant seeds. 

Back to Papaveraceae of Orange County, California
Back to Eudicots of Orange County, California
Back to Natural History of Orange County, California


8-24 in. tall; torus or ring with spreading rim at flower base. James Dilley Preserve, Laguna Beach, CA. 4-24-10. © Joan Avise.

James Dilley Preserve, Laguna Beach, CA. 4-24-10. © Joan Avise.

Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary, Modjeska Canyon, Orange Co., CA. (cultivated). 5-7-06. © Joan Avise.

Unknown larva (plant is toxic to most insects). Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, Orange Co., CA. 3-28-10. © Joan Avise.

Leaves cleft in many segments; often bluish. Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Preserve, Riverside Co., CA. 3-01-09. © Joan Avise.

Sepals form a conical cap that falls off intact, allowing the petals to open. There is a conspicuous collar-like ring (torus) beneath the petals and sepals. University Hills, Irvine, CA. (cultivated) 1-28-08. © Joan Avise.

Along roadsides or close to urban areas, plants with larger deeper orange flowers can be seen, probably originating from seed mixes.  Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, Orange Co., CA. 3-28-10. © Joan Avise.

Plant with large deep orange petals, probably from non-local seed. Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, Orange Co., CA. 3-28-10. © Joan Avise.

Near Lake Elizabeth, Los Angeles County, CA. 4/20/2014. © Peter J. Bryant

With Tansy phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia, Near Lake Elizabeth, Los Angeles County, CA. 4/20/2014. © Peter J. Bryant

With Tansy phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia, Near Lake Elizabeth, Los Angeles County, CA. 4/20/2014. © Peter J. Bryant

Near Lake Elizabeth, Los Angeles County, CA. 4/20/2014. © Peter J. Bryant

With Tansy phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia, Near Lake Elizabeth, Los Angeles County, CA. 4/20/2014. © Peter J. Bryant

With Tansy phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia, Near Lake Elizabeth, Los Angeles County, CA. 4/20/2014. © Peter J. Bryant