Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Eschscholzia californica ssp. mexicana

Mexican gold poppy, California poppy

Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)

Eschscholzia californica ssp. mexicana (Mexican gold poppy)
Muller, Thomas L.
A low, smooth, pale bluish-green plant with fern-like leaves, mostly near base, and orange-yellow, cup-shaped flowers borne singly on stalks. Mexican gold poppy is a small, somewhat sprawling perennial, 6-16 in. tall and wide. Showy, yellow-orange flowers are borne on leafy, branching stems. The 2-3 in. wide, cup-shaped flowers, which bloom in response to moisture, temperature and sunlight, have a spicy fragrance. The lacy, blue-green, deeply dissected foliage is also attractive.

The Spanish name, Amopalo del Campo, means “poppy of the countryside.” This is appropriate, for when there are ample winter rains in the desert, this poppy grows in profusion, covering gravelly outwash fans and arid flats with a golden carpet. Once considered a separate species, Mexican Gold Poppy is now recognized as a desert-inhabiting subspecies of California Poppy (E. californica). The two subspecies are exceedingly similar, one consistent difference being that the first leaves on seedlings of Mexican Gold Poppy are linear and undivided, whereas on seedlings of California Poppy they are divided in a Y-shape (a difference learned by careful greenhouse study).

The genus is named after Dr. J.F. Eschscholtz who lived from 1793 to 1831. He performed duties as a surgeon and naturalist with Russian expeditions to the Pacific coast from 1815 to 1818.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Orange , Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


USA: AZ , CA , NV , NM , TX , UT
Native Distribution: W. TX, NM,AZ, CA, NV and N. MX. Escaped elsewhere.
Native Habitat: Plains & mesas; 4500 ft. or lower

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
Soil Description: Well-drained sands & loams or limestone.
Conditions Comments: Mexican gold poppy resembles California gold poppy. It often self-sows to form large colonies. Its flowers are open in warm, dry, sunny weather, and are closed on cloudy and wet days and at night.


Warning: Can be poisonous if ingested. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a person’s age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plant’s different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Last Update: 2016-06-03