California, Here We Come…

My sixth alphabetically chosen state is California and the state wildflower is the Golden Poppy – not a red — but sometimes orange – or a brilliant yellow as shown on the official highway welcome sign above. The symbolism is obvious as gold was the original impetus for population growth and formation of the state.. There is a 1700 acre tract north of Los Angelus dedicated to the poppy and when it is in bloom from February through the end of summer, it is truly a field of gold.

The Poppy Reserve.

Poppies are easy to raise although they prefer a Mediterranian hot, dry climate. There are about 50 varieties of Poppies and a dozen yellow ones and since they easily hybridize, only “Poppy experts” are able to sort out the individual characteristics and make positive botantical identification.

The Golden California Poppy – Eschscholzia californica.

Poppies are four petalled and open in the morning on warm days and quickly close on cloudy or chilly mornings. They have a lot of pollen and not much nectar but the pollinators are obviously very successful as millions bloom at the same time from Mexico and up the Pacific Coast to Washington State.

My experience with the Poppy is not golden but scarlet. When I spread a packet of wild flower seeds in a small patch in a sunny section of my backyard I had no idea what to expect. Baby Blue Eyes and Five Spot wildflowers emerged and then I was surprised with a half dozen brilliant red poppies of the Land of Oz variety. Each bloom lasted for three days or so and for about a month, new buds and blooms opened every sunny day giving us a cheery start to the morning and a vivid touch of color.

My Red Poppies are in the Poppy family but a different variety – Papover rhoeus.
The Five Spot wildflower is aptly named and can be found in the same regions as the California Poppy.
Baby Blue Eyes was a common western wildflower in my wild garden that bloomed Spring and Summer.
The blossom is edible and several medicinal properties are attributed to the Poppy.

The Opium Poppy is a nefarious source of morphine and opium and is usually lavender but it has several variations including red.

A separate variety of Poppy (Papiver somniferum) is the source of opium not the California Poppy or the common Red Poppy..

After that short intro to Poppies and Californian wildflowers, it is time to skip eastward to the beautiful state of Colorado. I did mention the state flower in an article on one of my personal top ten wildflowers – do you remember?

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