Angelenos’ favorite spring past time is visiting the amazing views of the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) at the Poppy Reserve in Antelope Valley. You can find the CA Poppy in almost all of Los Angeles County’s Significant Ecological Areas! The CA Poppy was chosen as the state’s official flower in 1903 and April 6 of each year is officially designated as California Poppy Day.
The CA Poppy can grow from 5-60 centimeters tall and the flowers range in color from yellow to orange. The petals close at night or when it is cold and windy. It opens up again in the morning! The fruit of the plant is exposed when the petals fall off. The fruit is a slender capsule that contains the seeds. When the capsule dries out, it bursts open with an impressive amount of force and spills out the seeds.
CA Poppies are easy to grow, drought-tolerant, and produces a lot of seeds. You can see these flowers growing in a range of places, such as the Poppy Reserve to sides of the roads. It is always good practice to respect the wildflowers that we go to view. Picking wildflowers may seem innocent but it means that the flower will not get a chance to bear fruit and produce seeds for the next season. This is a problem for flowers that are not as plentiful as the CA Poppy.
Although the CA Poppy is not specifically protected, CA state law still requires written landowner permission to remove and sell plant material, and removing or damaging plants from property that a person does not own without permission may constitute trespass and/or petty theft. Threats to the CA Poppy are flower picking, going off the trail, and laying in a field of flowers.
References: California Native Plant Society, CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife
Pictures: Susie T., Iris C.