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Eschscholzia californica (California poppy)
Braden, Al

Eschscholzia californica

Eschscholzia californica Cham.

California Poppy, California Gold Poppy

Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)


USDA Symbol: ESCA2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (I), HI (I), CAN (I)

Feathery, highly-dissected, blue-green leaves clasp the 1-2 ft. stems of this popular, perennial wildflower. Showy, 1-3 in. wide, four-petaled flowers are open only on sunny days. The flowers are solitary and long-stalked and vary in color from orange to yellow. Each of the satiny petals has a deep-orange spot at its base.

California poppy is often used in wildflower mixes. It is easy to grow, drought tolerant, and reseeds so readily that is can become weedy. In natural conditions, it blooms most heavily from March to May. This bloom period can be extended with supplemental water.

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.


From the Image Gallery

96 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 2 feet tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Orange , Yellow
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


USA: AL , AZ , CA , CO , CT , GA , HI , ID , IL , KY , LA , MA , MI , MO , NC , NE , NH , NM , NV , NY , OH , OR , PA , SC , TN , TX , UT , WA , WI , WY
Native Distribution: Most of cismontane CA, w. Mojave Desert & coastal OR also WA and NV and N. MX; escaped freely elsewhere. The native range of the E. c. ssp. mexicana includes NM and W. TX.
Native Habitat: Open or disturbed, grassy areas

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Nutrient-poor, well-drained soils.
Conditions Comments: California poppy is often used in wildflower mixes. It is easy to grow, drought tolerant, and reseeds so readily that is can become weedy. In natural conditions, it blooms most heavily from March to May . This bloom period can be extended with supplemental water.


Use Food: The Nisenan of California boiled and consumed young spring leaves.
Warning: Can be poisonous if ingested. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís 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 plantís 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

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Plant seeds in the fall directly where poppies are desired, since they do not transplant well. Rake in 1/4". Germination is rapid.
Seed Collection: The fruit is a slender capsule.
Seed Treatment: Seeds germinate without pretreatment.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Native, non-invasive plant seeds for each region in U.S.
June 09, 2006
I need to identify a wildflower from each region that we can package in custom packaging to use as giveaways at our member zoos and aquariums. Our project this year is called Conservation Made Simple...
view the full question and answer

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1988 VOL. 5, NO.3 - Wildflowers in Bloom, Education and Tours, Poppies Brighten Barren Places, Pamel...
Wildflower Newsletter 1991 VOL. 8, NO.3 - Native Plants Provide a Wealth of Foods and Fibers, Letter from the President, A...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Eschscholzia californica in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Eschscholzia californica in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Eschscholzia californica


Record Modified: 2023-02-10
Research By: TWC Staff

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