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Eschscholzia californica
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California Poppy
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Eschscholzia californica

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About California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) The California poppy is native to grassy and open areas from sea level to 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) altitude in the western United States throughout California, extending to Oregon, southern Washington, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and in Mexico in Sonora and northwest Baja California. It can grow 5-60 centimeters tall, with alternately branching waxy pale blue-green foliage. The leaves are divided into round, lobed segments. The flowers are solitary on long stems, silky-textured, with four petals, each petal 2-6 centimeters long and broad; their color ranges from yellow (particularly in southern california) to orange, and flowering is from February to September. The petals close at night or in cold, windy weather and open again the following morning, although they may remain closed in cloudy weather. The fruit is a slender capsule 3-9 centimeters long, which splits in two to release the numerous small black or dark brown seeds. It is perennial in mild parts of its native range, and annual in harsher colder and hotter climates.

It was selected as the state flower by the California State Floral Society in December 1890, winning out over the Mariposa lily (genus Calochortus) and the Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) by a landslide, but the state legislature did not make the selection official until 1903. Its golden blooms were deemed a fitting symbol for the Golden State.

E. californica is tough, fast growing, drought-tolerant, self-seeding, and easy to grow in gardens. It is best grown as an annual, in full sun, but it will tolerate part shade. It prefers well draining, sandy, often poor soils.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Annual herb

Max. Height
0.16 - 2 ft (0.05 - 0.6 m)

Max. Width
1 - 2 ft (0.3 - 0.6 m)

Upright, Mounding, Rounded


Growth Rate
Fast, Moderate

Summer Deciduous

Flower Color
Orange, Yellow

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Open, grassy places


Elevation ?
-10' - 11310'

Annual Precip. ?
3.3" - 108.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.13" - 3.08"

Coldest Month ?
24.6° F - 61.4° F

Hottest Month ?
45.5° F - 88.4° F

Humidity ?
0.01 vpd - 42.13 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers loamy or clay soils. Grows poorly in sandy soils.

Soil PH
5 - 8

Fast, Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 10 - 20° F

Sunset Zones ?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6*, 7*, 8*, 9*, 10*, 11*, 12*, 13, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Lupinus species, Phacelia species, Clarkia species, Abronia species, Calfornia Buckwheat, White Sage, Chinese Houses, California Fuschia

Wildlife Attracted
Birds, small herbivores, butterflies, bees, other pollinators.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low, Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Very Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
1x/month, 2x/month, 3x/month, 1/week
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Best to cut down to the ground after the plant goes summer deciduous. Sometimes plants will last through the summer and come back when the rainy season begins, especially in milder climates.

Pest Control
Rabbits and other small herbivores eat this plant, but it grows back so quickly that they are not much of a problem.

Propagation ?
Easily grown from seed, and readily reseeds. Can be invasive.  For propagating by seed: No treatment.

Common uses
Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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